Mark Zuckerberg, founder and C.E.O. of Facebook, has become increasingly active in the political realm over the last several years. Wednesday night, he made an announcement that is causing rumors to rise about his political intentions.
The entrepreneur announced that he is hiring Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and chief strategist to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg also hired David Plouffe, the campaign manager for Obama’s 2008 presidential run, and Amy Dudley, former communications adviser to Democratic Senator Tim Kaine.
The Facebook owner said that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, hired Benenson to conduct research for the couple’s philanthropic efforts. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative focuses on “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” The philanthropy is endowed by Zuckerberg’s Facebook fortune, and the couple has vowed to donate 99% of their Facebook shares to the organization.
At the current price of Facebook shares set at $169/share, an estimated $45 billion will be going toward their philanthropic efforts. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will fund other charities, primarily focused on shaping policy and pushing political agendas. A spokesperson for the initiative told CNBC that hiring the Benenson Strategy Group will greatly improve their research efforts.
He said, “As a philanthropic organization focused on a number of substantive issues including science, education, housing and criminal justice reform, any research efforts we undertake is to support that work.”
Because of these hires and political undertakings, questions have begun to surface about Zuckerberg's intentions for a future in politics. While he has denied that he is interested in running for office, it would not come as a surprise if he put his name in the bid for the 2020 elections.
The C.E.O. has been acting like a candidate this year, as he has been traveling from state to state meeting with Facebook users. If Zuckerberg were to run a presidential campaign, he would be difficult to compete against simply because of the scope of his reach.
According to Forbes, the entrepreneur currently has a $70.4 billion net worth, with an average of $4 billion added to that every day. Additionally, he has access to data of all Facebook and Instagram users. Facebook has over 2 billion active users, while Instagram is getting closer to 1 billion users every day.
What do you think about Mark Zuckerberg as a potential presidential candidate? Let us know! Zuckerberg would not be the only public figure to consider running for office in the next election cycle. A celebrity and unlikely Republican candidate is currently leading in a Senate primary poll.