Mark Zuckerberg To Donate Half His Wealth to Charity

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RICK WILKING/Reuters/Corbis

See? He really isn’t the meanie portrayed in The Social Network.

On Thursday, 26-year old Zuckerberg joined the Giving Pledge, the network of rich entrepreneurs who have agreed to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

(Read “Mark Zuckerberg Now Richer Than Rupert Murdoch, Steve Jobs, You.”)

“People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”

Fifteen other tycoons signed up at the same time as Zuckerberg, including AOL co-founder Steve Case, investor Carl Icahn and financier Michael Milken. They join a list that already includes 50 billionaires and multi-millionaires like fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, media executive Barry Diller, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and film director George Lucas.

(See the Top 10 fashion houses on Facebook.)

Forbes magazine estimates Zuckerberg’s wealth at $6.9 billion. That makes him the 35th wealthiest American. But, as the Wall Street Journal points out, much of that fortune remains theoretical since it stems from his ownership stake in Facebook, which has not yet listed itself on the stock market. The Facebook founder began dabbling in philanthropy in September when he announced that he would donate up to $100 million to the troubled Newark city schools.

(Read Mark Zuckerberg—TIME‘s Person of the Year?)
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