Facebook staff jackpot stories compelling, if not convincing

February 3, 2012

Facebook staff jackpot stories compelling, if not convincingIn 2005, Facebook commissioned an artist to paint murals at its headquarters and cheekily offered to pay him in company stock rather than cash. They somehow persuaded him to take the stock: that decision means he’ll soon be worth around $200 million.

David Choe, a former convict and self-confessed LA riots looter, is already doing well thanks to his successful arts career, having worked on successful album covers and even a painting for the White House. He’s produced a supposedly autobiographical photobook showing a hectic and high-cost lifestyle. But even if that’s an exaggeration right now, that lifestyle is about to become very easily affordable.

The murals have been broken up into several pieces and now appear in several different Facebook offices. That’s going to create a philosophical debate because, as TG Daily points out, if you consider them a single artwork, you can now argue it’s the most valuable in the world as the current record for the amount paid for a painting is $140 million.

Choe’s story is just part of a claim that a thousand Facebook employees who’ve been given share options over the years will become overnight millionaires. If you’re thinking that sounds a suspiciously wrong number, you may be right to be skeptical. The Wall Street Journal notes that the closest thing to a firm figure is a quote from a former Facebook recruiter who says there’ll be “thousands of millionaires.”

It’s worth noting that as of the end of 2008, only 700 people worked for Facebook. The amount of shares people were offered appears to have varied depending on their position and length of service. The offer will often have been the right to buy the stock rather than simply being given the stock, meaning many will have passed up the opportunity. And the rules of the IPO mean the staff can’t sell the stock until mid-2013, so will have to hope the original price holds up.

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