Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg may have signalled his intention to run for President of the United States sometime in the future. Facebook recently stated its proposed changes to the stock structure of the company, where a new class of non-voting shares would allow Zuckerberg to liquate a larger portion of his ownership without losing control of his company.
In recent proxy statement, relating to the issue of new non-voting shares in the multibillion dollar company, a lengthy clause details how the 31-year-old majority shareholder could retain control of the company after his departure provided he serves in “a government position or office”.
“Moreover, the New Certificate provides that all shares of Class B common stock will automatically convert into Class A common stock on the date that is (i) the third anniversary of the death of Mr. Zuckerberg or a Disability Event, if such Disability Event is continuing as of such anniversary date and (ii) one year following the date of termination of Mr. Zuckerberg as an Approved Executive Officer for Cause (subject to a 60-day cure period) or the Voluntary Resignation of Mr. Zuckerberg as an Approved Executive Officer, provided that Mr. Zuckerberg’s leave of absence or resignation would not constitute a Voluntary Resignation if it were in connection with his serving in a government position or office and if, at the time of such leave or resignation, Mr. Zuckerberg owns (i) 30% or more of the shares of our capital stock that he owned as of the date that we enter into the Founder Agreement with Mr. Zuckerberg (Founder Agreement Effective Date), Mr. Zuckerberg has discussed such leave or resignation with our independent directors or (b) less than 30% of the shares of our capital stock that he owned as of the Founder Agreement Effective Date, such leave or resignation has been approved by a majority of our independent directors or the duration of serving in the government position or office was limited to two years.”
The long clause states the various scenarios where Zuckerberg would lose control of the company such in the case of a “Disability Event”, “Voluntary Resignation” or in the more obvious case of death. However, included in the clause is an interesting exemption whereby “all shares of Class B common stock will automatically convert into Class A common stock on the date that [Mr Zuckerberg leaves the company], provided that Mr. Zuckerberg’s leave of absence or resignation would not constitute a Voluntary Resignation if it were in connection with his serving in a government position or office”.
Mr Zuckerberg has not signalled that he intends to stand for office however, the explicit inclusion of the clause may suggest that a bid for public office is in the cards for the young billionaire. However, this may be a mere afterthought on the part of Zuckerberg who has played an integral role in the company’s success through his close management. The new class of stock solidifies Zuckerberg’s long-term control of the social network platform while allowing him to withdraw his capital in order to pursue other ventures.
The culture of billionaires turning to the political world has reached new heights in recent months with the unprecedented success of Donald Trump who is now likely to win the Republican Party nomination for President in the June convention. Another close comparison is world’s 8th richest man Michael Bloomberg who founded financial technology and media company Bloomberg LP, before going on to serve as Mayor of New York for 12 years.
The minimum age to become the President of the United States is 35-years-old, leaving Mark Zuckerberg shy 4 years of the requisite age. The earliest the Facebook CEO could run is the general election in 2020.