Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Half a Billion dollar Graffiti

Since the most talked about initial public offering of the social media giant Facebook, reports as to the increase in the net worth of its major players have spawned curiosity from the cyber and business world. Founder Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, according to speculators would increase their Facebook generated wealth exponentially.

Other than the two major players, it was David Choe , a graffiti artist who chose Facebook stock instead of cash when he spray-painted the first Facebook offices in 2005 that curious attention from many.

Mr. Choe said Facebook originally offered him $60,000 to paint murals in the company's Palo Alto offices in 2005. Today, he said, the stock he took instead could be worth more than $500 million.

If we take his word for it, it was as if Facebook had paid half a billion dollars for him to paint the murals. It is however, unclear how much of the original stock Mr. Choe has left. Mr. Choe told Mr. Stern (in “The Howard Stern Show”) that he did not own all of his original stock and that he had sold some - presumably on the secondary market. He declined though, to say how much.

The New York Times in addition said that “Facebook clearly understood the value of Mr. Choe's murals. When the company outgrew its first offices in Palo Alto and moved to a larger space, the mural-covered concrete walls were removed from the building and placed on display in the new offices”.

In his conversation with Mr. Stern, Mr. Choe reiterated his original feelings about Facebook in 2005, saying: "People don't remember, Facebook was a joke." But his tune has changed since then. Mr. Choe talked about how much he likes Mark Zuckerberg, the company's founder. Mr. Choe also said he recently painted the company's new headquarters free.

When Mr. Stern asked him if he was "half out of his mind to turn down the $60,000 dollars," Mr. Choe said he "likes to gamble" and noted that he believed in Sean Parker, then Facebook's president, who had hired Mr. Choe to paint the offices.

Surely, in the case of Mr. Choe, being a bit of a risk taker had literally paid. From $60,000 dollars to half a billion dollars could probably be entered as one of the best paid gamble ever made.

Source: New York Times (

Danjun Lucas

Blog Entry 8

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