Mark Zuckerberg's listening tour of the United States, he insists, is not a political campaign. But while "Zuck 2020" may not be happening, the 33-year-old Facebook co-founder is planning to influence American politics for generations to come. And that campaign has already begun.
The world's fifth-richest man has publicly committed $45 million — most of it in the first 10 months of 2017 — into groups aligned with two political causes: ending the era of mass incarceration and fixing the affordable housing crisis in American cities. The sum, reported here for the first time, represents the first series of investments by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (with wife Priscilla Chan), or CZI, which is setting goals to extend far beyond the next election cycle.
"I think that the sort of political scuttlebutt has been kind of silly both in terms of what we're doing and Mark's travel," said former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, the head of CZI's political work, in an interview with VICE News. "You can't manage a fictitious campaign."