Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Makes Its First Acquisition, Meta

  • Meta’s tool for distributing scientific research will be free
  • Acquisition fits with goal of working toward curing diseases

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg.

Photographer: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organization made its first acquisition, buying Meta, a website that makes it easier for scientists to find the latest academic research.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative intends to improve Meta’s product, which reads all scientific research and uses an algorithm to provide it to clients based on relevance. After taking some time to upgrade the search tool, the initiative will make it free to researchers, Cori Bargmann, the group’s president of science, and Brian Pinkerton, its president of technology, said Monday in a blog post.

With the acquisition, the initiative is taking advantage of its status as a limited liability company rather than a charity. When Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to invest 99 percent of their wealth in philanthropic causes, they chose the company structure so it would be easier to spend on actions to help meet their goals -- whether it meant lobbying or investment in for-profit companies. A nonprofit would have more trouble maintaining its tax-exempt status by engaging in certain spending.

The initiative didn’t disclose an acquisition price. Meta has raised $7.5 million from venture capitalists, according to Crunchbase. Zuckerberg and Chan have pledged to spend more than $3 billion over the next decade to work on curing diseases.

“Meta’s tools can dramatically accelerate scientific progress and move us closer to our goal: to support science and technology that will make it possible to cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century,” Bargmann and Pinkerton wrote in a Facebook post. “Meta will help scientists learn from others’ discoveries in real time, find key papers that may have gone unnoticed, or even predict where their field is headed.”

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