Mark Zuckerberg has stopped selling off his shares nearly 19 years sooner than expected to maintain control of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg

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Mark Zuckerberg
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Stephen Lam/Reuters

  • Mark Zuckerberg stopped selling off his Facebook stock in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday.
  • The Facebook CEO said in September 2017 he would offload millions of shares to help fund he and his wife’s philanthropic endeavors, but the stock sales halted when the company’s stock began to take a plunge.
  • The decision to cease the sale of his options amid the stock’s recent decline is likely Zuckerberg protecting his majority stake in the company.
  • In 2017, Zuckerberg said he could continue selling stock and maintain voting control for 20 years, but with Facebook falling 20% in the holiday quarter, that plan has been paused nearly 19 years early.

Mark Zuckerberg has stopped selling off his Facebook stock, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday.

The 34-year-old CEO said in September 2017 that he would offload 35 to 75 million shares over 18 months to help fund he and his wife’s philanthropic endeavors.

Since that pledge, he has sold 30.4 million shares – amounting to around $5.6 billion – but according to the report on Thursday, Zuckerberg didn’t sell any shares in the fourth quarter of 2018.

During that holiday quarter, Facebook’s stock price fell by 20%. A Facebook spokesperson declined Business Insider’s request for comment.

Bloomberg reported that the Zuckerberg’s stock was on a 10b5-1 trading plan, in which price and volume limits can be set.

A 20-year mark missed by nearly 19

The decision to halt the sale of his options amid the stock’s recent declines is likely Zuckerberg protecting his majority stake in the company.

In 2017, just days before a Delaware trial was set between the CEO and stockholders, Zuckerberg dropped plans to alter Facebook’s stock structure that would have protected his control of the company even if he sold off 99% of his shares for charitable reasons.

“At the time, I felt that this reclassification was the best way to do both of these things,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page at the time, in regards maintaining control while selling his shares. “In fact, I thought it was the only way.”

Read more: A power struggle between Facebook and investors just ended with Facebook dropping plans to issue non-voting shares

With Facebook’s stock performing so well at the time, however, Zuckerberg believed he could continue offloading his shares for many years and maintain power without having to revamp any internal structures.

“Over the past year and a half, Facebook’s business has performed well and the value of our stock has grown to the point that I can fully fund our philanthropy and retain voting control of Facebook for 20 years or more,” he wrote.

As Facebook traded around $132 on Thursday, down from a record high of over $218 last July, that 20 year period seems to have come to an end nearly 19 years early.