President Zuckerberg? Facebook Would Allow It
Facebook doesn’t seem to take issue with the idea of Mark Zuckerberg taking public office.
In a Facebook proxy statement published by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday, the company paved the way for Zuckerberg to one day take a “voluntary” leave from his post as CEO and serve “in a government position or office.”
The proxy statement, which was earlier discovered by Forbes, outlines how Facebook (FB) is creating a new class of non-voting shares allowing Zuckerberg to donate his stock without losing control over the company.
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan last year announced that they would donate 99% of their wealth, which includes billions of dollars in Facebook stock, to charitable organizations. However, Zuckerberg doesn’t want to lose control over his company in the meantime, requiring Facebook to create a new class of stock that would allow him to dole out Facebook shares, but keep his voting power.
The proxy statement suggests that Zuckerberg and Facebook’s board came to an agreement on how his shares would be distributed in the event of a death or disability, or if he’s fired from the company. It also includes the rather-interesting provision that allows him to maintain his shares in the event he takes government office.
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The idea of Zuckerberg running for office at some point in his life is one that has been floated. In fact, in an editorial earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal, Jim Vandehei, co-founder and former CEO of Politico, argued for a third-party candidate. He pointed to Zuckerberg, as well as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as possible options.
“Why not recruit Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg to head a third-party movement?” he asked in his editorial.
The trouble with that argument, however, is that the U.S. Constitution requires a person to be 35 years old to run for President. Zuckerberg is 31 years of age.
While Zuckerberg has not shared any intent to leave Facebook or run for public office, it obviously wouldn’t be the first time a billionaire has done it. And Zuckerberg has in the past signaled his interest in politics.
In 2014, for instance, Zuckerberg said that he personally called President Obama about the need for a secure Internet.
“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”
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More recently, Zuckerberg took on some decidedly political tones at his company’s F8 conference keynote earlier this month, discussing everything from refugees to climate change and global disease. He even took a swipe at Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“As I look around the world, I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward, against the idea of a connected world and a global community,” Zuckerberg said. “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others.’ I hear them calling for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, for reducing trade, and in some cases even for cutting access to the Internet.”
That said, the latest proxy statement, coupled with Zuckerberg’s political tone, are not necessarily a smoking gun that he will, for sure, run for public office.
They do, however, provide circumstantial evidence suggesting that maybe (just maybe), one day, he’ll want to be known as President Zuckerberg.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.