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Facebook co-founder, who wants company broken up, launches $10M anti-monopoly fund

Rex Crum
The Mercury News

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who has called upon the federal government to break up the social-networking giant he helped create, on Thursday launched a new $10 million fund aimed at taking on the influence of corporations in politics and rebuilding civic power.

The Anti-Monopoly Fund (AMF) is part of Hughes’ Economic Security Project. According to the group, the AMF will “fill a need of directing resources to organize and expand the efforts of groups that are already working on creating fair markets and implementing smart anti-monopoly enforcement and policy.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 11, 2018.

In a statement, Hughes said the AMF is being created “at a pivotal moment where cultural and political momentum are aligned to rein in the unchecked behavior of Big Tech,” but that the fund would also put its attention toward powerful industries outside of the tech sector.

“There is also a need and opportunity to take meaningful action on monopoly power across industries that’s led to corporate interests in the driver’s seat of our political and economic system for far too long,” Hughes said.

Hughes garnered widespread attention when, in May, he wrote a lengthy piece for the New York Times arguing that U.S. federal regulators need to break up Facebook. Among the reasons Hughes gave for his position was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s 60% ownership of the company’s voting shares, which Hughes argued gives the Facebook founder “unprecedented and un-American” power to establish the policies and direction of the company.

The AMF has already signed on some notable backers, including George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Knight Foundation and Redwood City-based Omidyar Network, which was started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

According the AMF, the fund is set up to operate only until March 2021. By using such a finite time frame, the group will be able to “remain agile in strategy and resource allocation,” AMF said in a statement.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Hughes’ new fund.