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Marc Zuckerberg Wanted to Work in Government and Still Control Facebook, Lawsuit Claims

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds a pair of the touch controllers for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets during the Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco, CaliforniaFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds a pair of the touch controllers for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets during the Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco, California
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds a pair of the touch controllers for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets © Stephen Lam / Reuters REUTERS

Earlier this year, Facebook revealed that it would allow Mark Zuckerberg to retain control over the company if he were to leave for a “government position or office” for two years. The tech giant created a new class of shares, which would give Zuckerberg the opportunity to donate his stock without giving up his voting power in the company.

And Zuckerberg reportedly worked to make that happen, according to text messages between the Facebook CEO and a board of directors member, Marc Andreessen, made public in a lawsuit and reported by Bloomberg. The lawsuit was filed in April, but was unsealed just this week.

In those messages, Zuckerberg received advice from Andreessen over how to convince other members of Facebook’s board to let him control the company while working in government. Andreessen, the Guardian reports, told Zuckerberg they had to “define the gov’t service thing without freaking out shareholders that you are losing commitment.”

The plaintiffs—which include pension funds such as the Employee Retirement System for the city of Providence, as well as individual investors—are suing over Facebook’s introduction of the new class of stock. They argue it is a “self-interested agglomeration of power,” and accuse Andreessen and Zuckerberg of working together to help protect the latter’s interests over the that of the shareholders, according to the Financial Times.

Facebook did not immediately comment Friday. Andreessen declined to comment.

The prospect that directors are not sufficiently independent from company executives have concerned investors before. Recently, Chipotle shareholders sought to shake up that restaurant chain’s board of directors.

Shares of Facebook ticked upward slightly by 0.41% on Monday.