During a livestreamed question-and-answer session with Facebook employees on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a surprising assertion: He agrees with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders that billionaires should not exist.
Asked to respond to the Vermont independent’s declaration that billionaires should not exist, Zuckerberg — the fifth richest person in the world — offered an unexpected take.
“I understand where he’s coming from,” he said. “I don’t know if I have an exact threshold on what amount of money someone should have but on some level, no one deserves to have that much money.”
Zuckerberg, who is worth a staggering $66.6 billion, and his wife Priscilla Chan announced plans almost four years ago to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a company that uses technology to solve challenges like eradicating disease and reforming the criminal justice system, according to its website.
The full amount is pledged over the course of Zuckerberg's life, and he will not give more than $1 billion each year in the immediate future. (In a regulatory filing, Zuckerberg said he plans to maintain control of the company "for the foreseeable future.")
“I think if you do something that’s good, you get rewarded,” he added. “But I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable.”
The meeting came three days after leaked audio from July, first obtained by the Verge, revealed Zuckerberg candidly discussing some of the sweeping proposals introduced by 2020 hopefuls, including a plan from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to break up big technology companies.
He vowed to “go to the mat” to fight her plan to break up companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google if she’s elected.
“If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge,” Zuckerberg said at the time. “And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don't want to have a major lawsuit against our own government.”
Shortly after the Verge released the audio, Warren responded on Twitter, renewing her criticism of the social media behemoth.
“What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy,” she wrote.
During this week’s Q&A session, Zuckerberg said he stood by his earlier comments about Warren, but added, “let’s try not to antagonize her further.”