Facebook, founded in a Harvard dorm as a way to rank women, filed for an IPO Wednesday that values the social networking site between US$75 and $100 billion. The public offering is set to make millionaires and billionaires of early investors, employees, and even the guy who painted the walls at the company’s first Palo Alto, California office. Graffiti artist David Choe accepted company shares in lieu of cash for his work in 2005 despite thinking at the time that Facebook was a “ridiculous and pointless” idea. Those shares are now worth about $200 million, according to what the Times calls “a number of people who know Mr. Choe and Facebook executives.” (Someday, when Maclean’s Need To Know goes public, I hope you all, dear readers, are cited as people who know me.)
Documents released as part of the filing show founder Mark Zuckerberg still has near complete control of the company Aaron Sorkin seems to think he founded as a way to get back at an ex. Zuckerberg owns just over a quarter of the company’s shares, but controls more than 57 per cent of the voting stock. His mortality is also identified as one of the company’s major liabilities, according to the 400-page S-1 filing. Along with COO Sheryl Sandberg, he is listed as one of two “key personnel” whose loss could seriously damage the online behemoth. (Another big liability: privacy laws.)
Facebook shares have been trading in private sales for a few years and those who bought early are now set to make bank. Billionaire Peter Thiel invested $500,000 in the company in 2004. That stake could now be worth $2 billion. Zuckerberg’s dad, his college roommate, and U2 front man Bono are also set to cash in on early investments/fortuitous relationships. If the sale goes as planned, it will become the most valuable IPO in tech stock history, which is a remarkable fate for a site used mostly by former classmates who want to talk about their babies.