The 16-year relationship of college sweethearts Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

  • Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has been married to his wife Priscilla Chan since 2012.
  • The couple met in line for the bathroom at a college frat party in 2003, and have since had two kids together and given millions to philanthropy.
  • Here’s everything you need to know about Zuckerberg and Chan’s 16-year-long relationship, and how the couple spends their time when the CEO isn’t running Facebook.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may not have gotten an undergrad degree out of Harvard, but he has his time at the university to thank for his wife, Priscilla Chan.

The couple met in 2003 at a frat party, and tied the knot in 2012, one day after Facebook’s IPO.

In the span of their relationship, Zuckerberg has continued to run Facebook as the couple founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, pledged millions to philanthropy efforts, started a family, and traveled on vacations abroad all while buying up big properties in California, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Zuckerbergs, who have been together for 16 years and have two children together:


Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg met in line for the bathroom at a Harvard University party in 2003. Zuckerberg’s fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, was hosting a party and Chan, a sophomore student from the Boston area, was there.

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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan at a Facebook holiday party.
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Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

“He was this nerdy guy who was just a little bit out there,” Chan told The New Yorker. “I remember he had these beer glasses that said ‘pound include beer dot H.’ It’s a tag for C++. It’s like college humor but with a nerdy, computer-science appeal.”

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Scott Olson / Getty

Source: The New Yorker


Chan said that when she first met Zuckerberg, she thought he might get kicked out of school for a prank he pulled: the hot-or-not website ranking the attractiveness of students on campus, called “Facemash,” that Zuckerberg notoriously created in his sophomore year at Harvard.

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Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Zuckerberg was also expecting to get kicked out of Harvard when he met Chan. In his 2017 commencement address at Harvard, Zuckerberg said his opening line to Chan was: “I’m going to get kicked out in three days, so we need to go on a date quickly.”

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Adam Berry/Getty Images

Source: Vox


“Without Facemash, I wouldn’t have met Priscilla,” Zuckerberg said in his Harvard commencement address. “She’s the most important person in my life, so you could say it was the most important thing I built in my time here.”

Source: Vox


When Zuckerberg took Chan out for the first time, he told her he’d “rather go on a date with [her] than finish his take-home midterm,” Chan said in an interview with the Today Show in 2014. “The type-A first child in me was appalled.”

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Priscilla Chan on the Today Show with Savannah Guthrie in 2014.
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NBC Today Show

Source: Today Show


Chan was one of the first people to join Facebook, on February 5, 2004.

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Priscilla Chan joined Facebook on February 5, 2004.
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Priscilla Chan/Facebook

Zuckerberg officially dropped out of Harvard in the fall of 2005, after his sophomore year, to focus on building Facebook. He moved out to Palo Alto, California, where Facebook opened its first office.

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Mark Zuckerberg in Facebook’s first office.
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“Now Entering: A Millennial Generation” documentary via YouTube

Source: Harvard Crimson


Perhaps the most telling sign of their long relationship is that Chan knew Zuckerberg before hoodies became his clothing of choice. “There is the black fleece period, the red puma period, the short-lived white coat period and the really soft green thing period,” she commented on a photo of Zuckerberg in 2006.

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Mark Zuckerberg/Priscilla Chan/Facebook

In 2007, Chan graduated from Harvard, and Zuckerberg was there to celebrate. Chan then followed him to California, and entered medical school at the University of California, San Francisco in 2008. She rented an apartment near Golden Gate Park, where Zuckerberg would visit her most weekends.

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Facebook/Priscilla Chan

Early on in their relationship, Chan set some strict ground rules because Zuckerberg was so busy with Facebook. Chan required one date per week, and a minimum of 100 minutes of alone time per week not at Facebook.

Source: Wall Street Journal


“They walk in the park, go rowing (he insists that they go in separate boats and race), play bocce or the board game the Settlers of Catan. Sundays are reserved for Asian cuisine,” The New Yorker wrote about the couple in 2010.

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Facebook/Priscilla Chan

Source: The New Yorker


Chan has been there through all the ups and downs. Here, she helped Zuckerberg take photos of himself for a BusinessWeek story in 2005.

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Mark Zuckerberg/Priscilla Chan/Facebook

Chan was also there when Zuckerberg turned down multiple buyout offers, including a $1 billion offer from Yahoo in 2006. Chan told The New Yorker that was Zuckerberg’s most stressful time period. “I remember we had a huge conversation over the Yahoo! deal,” Chan said. “We try to stick pretty close to what our goals are and what we believe and what we enjoy doing in life—just simple things.”

Sources: New Yorker


While still a med student at UCSF, Chan moved in September 2010 into Zuckerberg’s rented house in the College Terrace neighborhood of Palo Alto. He announced the news on Facebook: “Priscilla Chan is moving in this weekend. Now we have 2x everything, so if you need any household appliances, dishes, glasses, etc please come by and take them before we give them away.”

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The College Terrace neighborhood in Palo Alto.
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Google Maps

Source: New York Times


Zuckerberg and Chan then bought a five-bedroom home for $7 million in Palo Alto’s Crescent Park neighborhood in May 2011, and tricked out the house with a “custom-made artificially intelligent assistant.” Zuckerberg then bought the four homes surrounding the residence the following year for $43 million to allow him to expand his property.

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Zuckerberg and Chan’s neighborhood in Palo Alto’s Crescent Park neighborhood.
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Zillow

Source: Business Insider


In March 2011, Chan and Zuckerberg adopted an excessively woolly Puli they named Beast.

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Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg and their dog, Beast.
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Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

That same month, the couple finally made their relationship Facebook official.

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Facebook

In May 2012, Zuckerberg and Chan tied the knot in a surprise wedding ceremony just days after Chan graduated from med school and Zuckerberg took his company public. The couple told the 100 guests they invited that the event was a surprise graduation party for Chan, then treated their guests to a wedding ceremony in the backyard of the couple’s Palo Alto house.

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Noah Kalina via Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

Source: CNN Money, Washington Post


The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in Rome, Italy, but had a pretty casual vacation. They were spotted eating McDonald’s for a meal while abroad.

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Joey Boots/Twitter

Source: Business Insider


Not long after returning from their honeymoon, Zuckerberg purchased a townhouse in San Francisco’s Dolores Heights neighborhood for $10 million. He spent an additional $1.6 million to remodel the place.

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Zuckerberg’s home is near Dolores Park, in the Mission District of San Francisco.
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Katherine Papera/EyeEm/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Zuckerberg and Chan have enjoyed several low-key trips to Hawaii, but they made a name for themselves in October 2014. The couple purchased two properties in Kauai spreading over 750 acres for more than $100 million, in order to “preserv[e] its natural beauty.”

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REUTERS/Rick Wilking and Trulia

Source: Business Insider


Chan finished her medical residency, with a specialty in pediatrics, in June 2015. She then went on to work as a pediatrician at San Francisco General Hospital.

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Priscilla Chan.
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Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit

Source: CNN Money


In July 2015, Zuckerberg announced on Facebook that Chan was pregnant. The couple had been trying for years, but Chan suffered three miscarriages along the way. “It’s a lonely experience,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well.”

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Facebook

Chan gave birth to a baby girl in December 2015, and the couple named her Max (short for Maxima).

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Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

Source: Business Insider


To celebrate the birth of their daughter, the couple also announced the launch of a new company called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, with the mission of “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” The couple pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares through the organization. Chan left her role as a pediatrician to run the organization full-time.

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Facebook/Zuckerberg Chan Initiative

Source: Business Insider, Quartz


The couple announced in 2016 they would invest $3 billion of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s funds into research for curing the world’s diseases. Their goal is to cure all diseases in the lifetime of their daughter, Max, who was 10 months old at the time.

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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan with their daughter Max.
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Facebook

Source: Business Insider


Together, the couple have given hundreds of millions to charity. They announced in 2015 they were signing onto the Giving Pledge, a commitment made by billionaires to give away more than half of their wealth during their lifetimes or in their wills. “We will spend our lives working to make sure future generations have the greatest opportunities possible,” the couple wrote in a letter.

Source: Giving Pledge


Chan and Zuckerberg have also made efforts to support education on both coasts. The Facebook CEO made a $100 million investment back in 2010 into the struggling school system in Newark, New Jersey, but the effort ultimately failed. In 2015, Chan and Zuckerberg launched “The Primary School” in Palo Alto for students in low-income areas.

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Bloomberg via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


The couple also donated $75 million in 2015 to a San Francisco public hospital, which was then renamed the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. The hospital — whose day-to-day operations the Facebook CEO has no impact on — has been criticized in recent years for blindsiding patients with large emergency-room bills.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Meanwhile, Priscilla and Chan welcomed the birth of their second daughter in August 2017, who they named — appropriately — August. Zuckerberg took two months off work for paternity leave after August’s birth.

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Facebook

Source: Business Insider


Zuckerberg and Chan have also traveled the world together. Early on in their relationship, they agreed to vacation for two weeks every year overseas. They’ve taken trips to Dubai, Mumbai and China, where they visit Chan’s family. Zuckerberg spent years learning Mandarin from Chan.

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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan walking around Shanghai in March 2012.
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Reuters/Stringer

Source: New York Times, NBC News


Zuckerberg and Chan took a trip in 2016 to Rome, where they met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Zuckerberg gave the pope a miniature model of a Facebook solar-powered drone.

Source: Business Insider


Zuckerberg used over $1 million in Facebook funds for personal travel in 2018, making it his most expensive year yet. While in Europe in May, he posted about celebrating his seventh wedding anniversary with Priscilla Chan at the Parthenon in Athens.

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Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg

Source: Business Insider


Zuckerberg and Chan added to their property repertoire in the winter of 2018 by secretly dropping $59 million to purchase two waterfront estates in Lake Tahoe. Together, the two properties have 600 feet of private waterfront access.

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One of Zuckerberg’s Lake Tahoe properties.
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Listings/Youtube

Source: Business Insider


But property isn’t the only thing that Zuckerberg and Chan have put millions into. Security and personal protection for Zuckerberg and his family spiked to $20 million in 2018, although Facebook foots the bill.

Source: Business Insider

Additional reporting from Alyson Shontell.