There is increasing speculation that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 33, is thinking about running for president. He hasn’t made any announcements, but the signs are certainly there.
Zuckerberg recently hired Joel Benenson to work as a consultant for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the philanthropic project he founded with his wife in 2015.
Benenson’s past jobs include:
• Democratic pollster
• Chief strategist for Hillary’s presidential campaign
• Adviser to former President Barack Obama
The couple is also working with David Plouffe, who led Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign; Ken Mehlman, who led George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign; and Amy Dudley, a former communications adviser for Virginia Senator and Clinton running mate Tim Kaine.
Zuckerberg is currently on a yearlong tour of the country, where he will meet with tech leaders in all 50 states. Documenting the trip is Charles Ommanney, a photographer who worked for Bush and Obama.
Zuckerberg insists the tour has nothing to do with politics. “Some of you have asked if this challenge means I’m running for public office. I’m not,” he said in May.
If he’s lying, Zuckerberg wouldn’t be the first politician or public figure to intentionally mislead the public.
Either way, Zuckerberg could certainly afford to run for president. It would cost him a mere 1% of his net worth to match the $768 million Clinton spent on her 2016 campaign.
Zuckerberg has yet to reveal any sort of political platform, but he has spoken in favor of bail bond reform and universal basic income. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things,” said Zuckerberg during a speech at Harvard in May.
The self-made billionaire has also been active in China, with hopes that his social network will be unblocked in the world’s most populous nation.
This week, Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during an annual gathering of advisers to Beijing’s Tsinghua University business school. “Every year this trip is a great way to keep up with the pace of innovation and entrepreneurship in China,” said Zuckerberg.