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Is Mark Zuckerberg diving into politics? Speculations mount

06 Jan 2017 | By Ramya Patelkhana

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that his personal goal for 2017 is to tour and meet people in every US state.

However, speculations are rife that he wants to serve in the government soon.

In 2016, he asked Facebook's board to pass a proposal allowing him to maintain Facebook's voting control for two years even if he leaves to serve in public office.

In context: Mark Zuckerberg to serve in government?

06 Jan 2017Is Mark Zuckerberg diving into politics? Speculations mount

Zuckerberg's personal challenge

Mark Zuckerberg wrote: "My work is about connecting the world and giving everyone a voice. I want to personally hear more of those voices this year." Media reports suggested the challenge sounded like a campaign tour.
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Potential to make a difference through government service

Mark ZuckerbergPotential to make a difference through government service

Mark Zuckerberg's potential to make a difference through his government service, and not just through software, has come into focus.

He also spoke about how he visualizes Facebook as a town square offering a platform for diverse voice and retain civility.

His vision actually makes the social network quite like a government.

Zuckerberg is also planning nation-wide tour stops to directly hear from people.

PoliticsNot limited to only two years serving in government

Contrary to media reports, Zuckerberg isn't limited to only two years serving in the government while controlling Facebook.

The US's Security and Exchange Commission documents show he needs to own enough Facebook stock or get the board's approval to work indefinitely in the government.

This combined with his 2017 personal challenge lends weight to the idea that he may be serious about politics.

Media reportsMight be elected or appointed to a more significant office

Without a limit, Zuckerberg might be elected or appointed to a more significant office and also have as much time as he wants to make an impact.

However, some government offices might require him to give up Facebook's control.

Being elected would require the support of people which has been upset by the media reports suggesting he is preparing the ground for entering politics.

Court FilingsZuckerberg insists on getting his proposal approved

Confusion arose from a shareholder lawsuit against Facebook regarding the secret correspondence between Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen.

Zuckerberg was insisting on getting the proposal to let him maintain voting control approved.

Allegedly, he secretly discussed with Andreessen about convincing board members as he donates the majority of his wealth to the philanthropic vehicle, the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative.

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NegotiationAgrees to several things as a part of negotiations

Zuckerberg agreed to several ways for Facebook to "mitigate succession risk."

But he fought for an exception; he may voluntarily resign/take leave while maintaining voting control.

The limits are he must own 30% or more of Facebook's shares and discuss joining government with independent directors.

Or own less than 30% and receive majority of independent directors' approval or serve for less than two years.

Political AmbitionsFacebook COO Sheryl Sandberg might join government

Speculations are mounting Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg might also join government.

This clarified Zuckerberg's ambitions to remould the world through politics could be grander than would fit in a mere two-year term.

A complete US tour is his next goal as he already spent the past few years traveling other countries, including India, Japan, Brazil, and meeting the heads of states.