Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sold off nearly 1.6 million in stocks this month, with the sales outburst amounting to nearly $296 million.
In September 2017, the social media celebrity stated in a Facebook post that he planned on selling between 35 million to 75 million shares in the span of 18 months, ending in March this year. With Facebook shares amounting to $170 at that time, the expected cash outstood to be over $12 billion.
The plan sets out to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a limited liability company owned and established by the tech magnate and his wife Priscilla Chan. CZI aims to “advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research, and energy”. The couple has pledged 99% of their Facebook shares which amount to $45 billion, as an endowment to the company and their philanthropic services.
The sales are being carried out according to a 10b5-1 plan, which is a rule by the Securities and Exchange Commission allowing public company insiders to sell a predetermined amount of stock at set periods of time. In addition to this, Facebook’s dual-class share structure not only lets Zuckerberg keep voting control over the company’s decisions even while selling portions of his stake, but helps investors be at ease with the dramatic unloading of shares. Zuckerberg has already sold over 8% of his total holdings.
Zuckerberg’s multibillion-dollar stock sale met setbacks in late 2018 as Facebook’s stock dropped 20% due to scandals. The fourth quarter didn’t see a single stock sale, making it the first in two years where the Facebook co-founder didn’t do so. The sales came to a grounding halt after selling $30.4 millions of shares, worth $5.6 billion, since his vow a year earlier.
This was a necessary action to protect his majority stake in the company. Even though, in 2017 he stated that he believed he could unload his shares of the company for charitable reasons and still maintain power for 20 years or more.
With Facebook stocks tumbling down, the 20-year plan seemed to be struggling to survive its first.
With the August sales spree, the Facebook co-founder and CEO seem to be ready to revive his philanthropic plan, after having not sold any shares since April. This year Zuckerberg has sold $2.9 million shares amounting to more than $526 million and seems to be willing to make good use of his 375 million Facebook shares (worth over $68 billion) and the title of the fifth richest man in the world.