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Facebook's Zuckerberg seeks 'superstar' analysts for new investment office

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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropic venture is staffing up its new investment office in the mould of the Ivy League.

[BOSTON] Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropic venture is staffing up its new investment office in the mould of the Ivy League.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, backed by billions of dollars of Facebook stock, recently hired three professionals under chief investment officer (CIO) David Lee, who relocated to Silicon Valley earlier this year. It is also looking for a couple of "superstar" analysts, according to a LinkedIn job posting.

Mr Zuckerberg, who famously dropped out of Harvard to start the social media giant, is returning to the Ivy League for talent. He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a Harvard grad, recruited Yale's David Swensen to chair the investment committee, in addition to tapping Princeton's endowment for Mr Lee and an associate staffer.

Yale distinguished itself by piling into alternative assets and international equities, making it the top performing endowment over the last decade. But it has lagged in recent years, returning 5.7 per cent in fiscal 2019, as foreign stocks suffered losses.

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The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative appears to be creating a similar global endowment-style portfolio, looking to hire analysts with expertise in public equities, hedge funds, buyout and venture capital funds, and real assets, according to the posting.

Andrew Walling, who joined the team in August, brings hedge fund chops to the job of director of investments. The Princeton alum had been co-deputy CIO at Aetos Alternatives Management, which picks hedge fund managers for institutional investors.

John McNamara, a senior associate, was hired in September from Princeton's endowment, which is run by Swensen acolyte Andy Golden. Peyton Hurrle was also brought on as a director of investments.

A spokesman for the venture in Redwood City, California, confirmed the hires and declined comment. Mr Walling and Mr McNamara didn't respond to requests for comment. Hurrle couldn't be reached.

The initiative last year planned to commit more than US$10 billion to the portfolio to produce returns that support operations. More than 95 per cent of Mr Zuckerberg's fortune is still invested in Facebook shares and he remains a controlling shareholder. According to the social media company's filings, 356 million shares, or US$64.3 billion, are held by CZI Holdings as of Oct 2.

Mr Zuckerberg is worth US$69.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Some of his fortune has been invested with Iconiq Capital, a Silicon Valley wealth adviser that oversees money for several early Facebook employees.

At an internal meeting at Facebook on Thursday, Mr Zuckerberg was asked by an employee to respond to a comment from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that billionaires shouldn't exist. While acknowledging that "no one deserves that much money", Mr Zuckerberg added that his wealth made possible investment to eradicate diseases that might not happen with public money.

The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, which was formed in 2015 and is run by Ms Chan, seeks to eradicate disease, improve education and reform the criminal justice system.

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