Mr. Zuckerberg set up a limited liability company – which has reaped enormous benefits as public relations coup and will help minimize his tax bill.
Mark Zuckerberg did not donate $45 billion to charity.
You may have heard that but that was wrong.
Here’s what happened instead: Mr. Zuckerberg created an investment vehicle.
Sorry for the slightly less sexy headline.
Mr. Zuckerberg is a co-founder of Facebook and a youthful megabillionaire.
In announcing the birth of his daughter he and his wife Priscilla Chan declared they would donate 99 percent of their worth – the vast majority of which is tied up in Facebook stock valued at $45 billion today.
In doing so Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Chan did not set up a charitable foundation which has nonprofit status.
He created a limited liability company – one that has already reaped enormous benefits as public relations coup for himself.
His P.R. return-on-investment dwarfs that of his Facebook stock.
Mr. Zuckerberg was depicted in breathless glowing terms for having in essence moved money from one pocket to the other.
An L.L.C. can invest in for-profit companies (perhaps these will be characterized as societally responsible companies but lots of companies claim the mantle of societal responsibility).
An L.L.C. can make political donations. It can lobby for changes in the law.
He remains completely free to do as he wishes with his money.
That’s what America is all about.
But as a society we don’t generally call these types of activities ‘charity’.