March 24, 2023

Contributor, PEOPLE
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan‘s meet-cute is straight out of an early 2000s rom-com.
The Facebook founder met his future wife at a college party while waiting in line for the bathroom. In 2010, they moved in together and later tied the knot in a top-secret backyard wedding before welcoming their two daughters. Through the incredible highs and tougher struggles, they’ve never wavered in their love and support for one another.
“She just treats him like the guy she’s in love with, not the same Mark Zuckerberg everyone else fell in love with,” author David Kirkpatrick told the New York Times in 2012.
In September 2022, the couple announced they’re expecting their third child, another little girl.
Zuckerberg loves that his life revolves around being a "girl dad" — but he's also very aware of how his public figure status could affect his daughters' perception of him as they grow. His family continuously motivates him to be better and to make a difference, as he explained during an appearance on NBC Nightly News in 2019.
“Of course, I want to know that when my girls grow up, that they’re going to be able to say that their dad made the world better and stood up for what he believed in,” Zuckerberg told host Lester Holt.
From their Harvard days to their philanthropy work and sweet family moments, here's everything to know about Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's relationship.
Zuckerberg and Chan are college sweethearts. She was attending a party at Zuckerberg's fraternity when they first met. The two Harvard undergraduates bumped into each other while waiting in line for the bathroom and started talking. It wasn't long before they decided to make things official.
“He was this nerdy guy who was just a little bit out there,” Chan told the New Yorker in 2010. “I remember he had these beer glasses that said ‘pound include beer dot H.’ It’s a tag for C++. It’s like college humor but with a nerdy, computer-science appeal.”
While studying to become a pediatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, Chan moved into Zuckerberg's home in Palo Alto, California. Zuckerberg, of course, announced the news on Facebook.
“Priscilla Chan is moving in this weekend. Now we have 2x everything, so if you need any household appliances, dishes, glasses … please come by and take them before we give them away,” he wrote on his personal Facebook page.
May 2012 was a big month for the couple. Not only did Facebook go public, but the couple married in a surprise outdoor wedding in front of friends and family, who were under the impression that the party was to celebrate Chan's graduation from medical school. The event took place in their backyard in Palo Alto.
“It was really cute,” a guest told PEOPLE. “Naturally people were surprised but happy.” Chan wore a white sleeveless gown by Claire Pettibone and was escorted down the aisle by their Hungarian sheepdog named Beast. Before saying their “I do’s,” the couple exchanged handwritten vows.
The wedding was catered by the couple’s favorite Palo Alto restaurants and they offered mice-shaped chocolates from Burdick Chocolate as dessert — a nod to the treat they shared on their first date.
"They share the same values and love and respect each other," Zuckerberg's sister Randi told PEOPLE.
Zuckerberg and Chan welcomed their first child, a daughter named Maxima “Max” Chan Zuckerberg, on Dec. 1, 2015, which the new dad announced on Facebook. In her honor, the pair also created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where their mission is to pledge 99% of their wealth to various causes including improving education and curing disease.
In 2016, TIME named Zuckerberg and Chan to their list of Most Influential People. On Facebook, the tech creator dedicated a whole post to his wife.
“Most days Priscilla works outside the spotlight in the hospital or the classroom. This is the first time she’s on the cover of a magazine,” Zuckerberg wrote alongside a photo of the 2016 issue. “I’m looking forward to the world getting to know the strong, kind, compassionate person I love so much.”
Following Max’s arrival, Chan opened up to Today host Savannah Guthrie about her choice to publicly speak on her experience with pregnancy, including her three miscarriages.
“Sharing our experience with pregnancy was incredibly important because we realized how challenging and difficult that was and there are really dark moments where you think you’re alone,” Chan explained.
"We realized that we weren't and that there were other people traveling along the same road with you. I think having that, knowing that you're not alone, was incredibly important for us," she continued. "And we wanted others to know that they weren't alone either."
Zuckerberg’s kids will learn multiple languages growing up. In December 2016, he revealed a new AI called Jarvis — named after J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Marvel Universe — that not only helps him and Chan run their home, but teaches daughter Max Mandarin as well. The app is voiced by Morgan Freeman, and notifies the couple of their daughter’s movements and speaks in Mandarin when Max is present.
“Jarvis, your Mandarin is so soothing,” Zuckerberg tells Jarvis as he enters Max’s room in a demonstration video. “Xièxie,” Jarvis responds, which roughly translates to “Thank you” in Mandarin.
In March 2017, the pair announced that, after experiencing difficulties trying to conceive their first child, Max was going to be a big sister. “We weren’t sure what to expect or whether we’d be able to have another child,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.
"When Priscilla and I first found out she was pregnant again, our first hope was that the child would be healthy," he said of baby number two. "My next hope was that it would be a girl."
In celebration of Facebook’s 13th birthday, Zuckerberg returned to his Harvard dorm room where he invented the social media platform. He documented the trip down memory lane on Facebook Live. “This is my first time being back here since I left 13 years ago,” Zuckerberg said in the video. “It has been a place where a lot of really special things happened in my life.”
Reminiscing with his wife, whom he met at Harvard, Zuckerberg gave followers a tour of Kirkland House room H33. "This is where my desk was and this is literally where I sat and I had my little laptop here," he demonstrated. "This is kind of where it happened."
In summer 2017, Facebook adopted a new mission: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Zuckerberg opened up about the change with PEOPLE en Español, specifically how his growing family played an integral role in rewriting the way Facebook views the future.
“For a few months during the pregnancy we just had a lot of time to think about the world that she was going to grow up in and there are all these dreams that we had long-term,” Zuckerberg said.
He continued: "We want to help in making the education system better, or improve health. We always just viewed these as long-term goals, but if you want your children to see the benefits of that, then it's like, 'okay well we better get on that.' She's going to go to school in four or five years right? So we have to."
After taking a few months off to bond with Chan and newborn Max in 2015, Zuckerberg shared that he was planning to spread out his paternity leave schedule with baby number two. “This time, I’m going to take advantage of Facebook’s option to take leave in parts,” he wrote on Facebook, which offers employees four fully paid months of maternity and paternity leave. “I’ll take a month off to be with Priscilla and the girls at the beginning, and then we’ll spend the whole month of December together as well.”
The couple welcomed their second child together, daughter August Chan Zuckerberg, on Aug. 28, 2017. Zuckerberg announced the news by posting a new family photo alongside a penned letter to his newborn.
“Your mom and I are so excited to see who you will become,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. “You will be busy when you’re older, so I hope you take time to smell all the flowers and put all the leaves you want in your bucket now. I hope you read your favorite Dr. Seuss books so many times you start inventing your own stories about the Vipper of Vipp. I hope you ride the carousel with Max until you’ve tamed every color horse.”
He continued, "And I hope even in your dreams you can feel how much we love you. Childhood is magical. You only get to be a child once, so don't spend it worrying too much about the future."
He signed off, "August, we love you so much and we're so excited to go on this adventure with you. We wish you a life of joy, love and the same hope you give us."
Like father, like daughter! While on paternity leave, Zuckerberg got very familiar with his eldest's closet and even coordinated matching outfits for himself and Max.
“I think Max is really starting to take after me since I’ve been on paternity leave,” Zuckerberg captioned the Facebook post. In the photo, the CEO and his daughter are sporting dark gray T-shirts, blue jeans and blue sneakers while walking hand-in-hand.
Max officially started school in January 2018. Zuckerberg captured the major milestone with a cute photo of himself and Chan wishing Max a great first day.
“First day of preschool,” Zuckerberg wrote alongside a snap of Max in a turquoise sweater with white patterned tights and holding a green backpack. “They grow up so quickly.”
In April 2019, Zuckerberg introduced the Sleep Box, a light filtering tool that helps Chan sleep soundly through the night. Since becoming a mom, Chan has experienced difficulties getting an adequate amount of shut-eye.
"She'll wake up and check the time on her phone to see if the kids might wake up soon, but then knowing the time stresses her out and she can't fall back asleep," Zuckerberg said of his invention. "It sits on her nightstand, and between the hours of 6-7am it emits a very faint light — visible enough that if she sees it she'll know it's an okay time for one of us to get the kids, but faint enough that the light won't wake her up if she's still sleeping," he explained. The tech founder added that because the box doesn't showcase the time, Chan can "just go back to sleep without having to worry about what time it is."
"As an engineer, building a device to help my partner sleep better is one of the best ways I can think of to express my love and gratitude," he wrote.
The couple celebrated seven years of marriage in style. Zuckerberg marked the special milestone with a selfie of himself and Chan in Greece. “Celebrating 7 years of happy marriage at the temple for the goddess of wisdom,” he captioned the Instagram post. In the snap, the pair are sporting big smiles and sunglasses while visiting the Parthenon in Greece.
Zuckerberg gave followers a glimpse into his family’s post-dinner cleanup party, and it appears August and Max love helping mom wash the dishes. Shared on Facebook, the clip shows August and Chan tag-teaming the dirty dishes in the sink and passing them off to Max to place in the dishwasher. “Parenting milestone unlocked,” Zuckerberg captioned the clip.
After seeing hundreds of teachers request classroom resources and necessities on DonorsChoose, Zuckerberg and Chan took immediate action. They joined forces with the nonprofit crowdfunding platform, and on behalf of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the pair funded a $1.2 million grant that ended up supporting teachers across 36 different states.
“As an educator, I know that teachers want professional development opportunities to both improve their instructional practice as well as meet their immediate needs in the classroom,” Chan said in a statement. “That is why we’re partnering with DonorsChoose to help teachers apply the latest findings on how students learn best within their classroom practice and funding the individual professional development asks of teachers across the country.”
The grant was able to help educators build teacher resource libraries and mental health services. Additionally, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative granted teachers NeuroTeach accounts.
When it comes to managing his young daughters' screen time, Zuckerberg and Chan follow a pretty simple rule. There's a cap on screen time for watching TVs and playing on computers — but, if they're using screen-based technology to stay in touch with family, then they're more flexible.
“Facebook makes this product, Portal — it’s this great video chat product — and I let my kids use that to communicate with my parents so they can stay in touch with their grandparents easily, their aunts who live across the country,” Zuckerberg told Fox News’ Dana Perino. “If our daughters want to video chat with their cousins or their grandparents, I think that’s wonderful and I think all the research would generally support that.”
Ask the dad again in a few years and he may have a different answer. "They're also very young," he added. "I think I'll have more challenges on this as they get older, but our oldest isn't even 4 years old. She'll get there!"
Zuckerberg and Chan work overtime to ensure their kids are growing up in a grounded home where responsibilities such as chores are part of daily life. “How do you raise children when you can really give them anything, materially, to be grounded?” CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King asked the couple in an exclusive sit-down interview.
"Well I think, first of all, we don't give them everything," Zuckerberg said. "That's an important piece, but they also just have responsibilities."
"They have chores, they have responsibilities," Chan chimed in. "We also take them to work. Mark and I take both of them to the office to see what we do, how we contribute."
For their 10th wedding anniversary, the couple honored the milestone by recreating one of their wedding photos dressed as bride and groom. “10 years married and half our lives together,” Zuckerberg wrote alongside a photo of him and Chan sitting side-by-side in rocking chairs. “Here’s to more adventures.”
Zuckerberg revealed that the pair are expecting their third daughter with an Instagram post in September 2022.
“Lots of love. Happy to share that Max and August are getting a new baby sister next year!” he wrote alongside a sweet photo of the couple where the tech founder can be seen resting his hand on Chan’s stomach.
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