Facebook’s CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, officially became a multi-billionaire on Friday as the social networking company he founded went public on the New York Stock Exchange. At $38 and change per share, his net worth now exceeds $19 billion. His 2004 novel idea has certainly garnered him returns beyond his wildest dreams. However, maintaining the new found wealth may soon become far more difficult as a result of a more recent investment. Zuckerberg just recently married his long time girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, and reportedly did not sign a pre-nuptial agreement. California is a community property state and thus any money he earns during the marriage will be split 50/50 should they ever get divorced. In a country where marriages are more likely to fail than succeed, you don’t need to be a financial advisor to say that Zuckerberg just made a terrible investment, one that may cost him at least $19 billion.
I, on the other hand, have a different perspective. I don’t think it was such a crazy idea for Zuckerberg to marry Ms. Chan without a prenup. I traditionally agree with the concept of a prenup but only in particular situations. For example, if a man worked extremely hard in his lifetime and amassed great amounts of wealth and AFTER doing so meets his future wife, then yes a prenup is in order. That’s because the woman had no part whatsoever in the man’s rise to success. She did not partake or assist in any way the development of her husband’s current state. That is not the case for Mr. Zuckerberg.
Ms. Chan was with Mark Zuckerberg when he was a “nobody.” They met when the two were freshman at Harvard and have been dating ever since. She was with him through the thick and thin. “Behind every successful man, there is an even stronger woman.” That famous saying applies to the Zuckerberg/Chan relationship. She is just as integral to the Facebook story as Zuckerberg himself. It is for that reason that Zuckerberg’s decision not to sign a prenup was NOT a Sucker bet.