Imagine it’s 2005. You’re a muralist and graffiti artist making a modest living from your trade, much of which involves decorating the offices of businesses. Then you get a call from a guy named Sean Parker, president of a company called Facebook. Facebook? It rings a bell. You Google it and see that it’s an Internet start-up which began doing business only a year earlier.
Anyway, this guy Parker is inviting you to paint Facebook’s offices in Palo Alto, California. He offers you payment in one of two ways—either thousands of dollars in cash, or stock worth approximately the same. So what’s it going to be?
This is exactly what happened to artist David Choe. And despite thinking at the time that the idea of Facebook was “pointless and ridiculous,” the 35-year-old went for the stock option and presumably watched with his jaw resting firmly on the ground as the company grew way beyond anything he could’ve imagined, culminating in an IPO filing this week that will likely leave Choe worth somewhere in the region of $200 million when the company goes public later in the year.
According to a New York Times report this week, Choe would have received between 0.1 percent and 0.25 percent of the company for his work at Facebook’s offices. While this sounds like a minuscule amount, when you consider that the social networking site could soon be valued at around $100 billion, you begin to realize Choe must be a very wise character. Or simply extremely lucky.
The NYT reports that Choe may not actually need the Facebook payout, having becoming a highly successful artist in the intervening years. Still, for a man that had no faith in the company but still took the stock, it’s a wonderful story.
Facebook filed papers for its IPO earlier this week with a plan to raise $5 billion, valuing the social networking site at up to $100 billion, making it the biggest ever IPO for an Internet company.
Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is the company’s largest stockholder with more than half a billion shares (28.4 percent) in the business, which could be worth as much as $28 billion.