I read something pretty cool yesterday: last Wednesday’s Facebook IPO made muralist David Choe a multimillionaire. Reports are estimating that Choe is now sitting on cool $200 million in stock.
So how did Facebook’s IPO turn a muralist into a millionaire? Well, back in 2005, then-Facebook president Sean Parker hired Choe to paint the walls of Facebook’s office. Parker gave Choe the choice of $60,000 cash or the equivalent in Facebook stock options as payment. Although Choe reportedly thought Facebook “a joke,” he did believe in Parker and decided to take a risk. In other words, he chose the stock options. Little did Choe know that Facebook would be worth an estimated $5 billion today. Over the years, it is likely that Choe sold off some of his shares. Hopefully, he held on to enough of them to cash them in for some serious money later this year.
Meanwhile, Choe’s murals are still on display in Facebook’s new offices (the company brought them when they upgraded to a new location). According to the New York Times, the estimated $200 million value of those murals rivals the “record-breaking” amount Sotheby’s brought in for a group of Damien Hirst paintings back in 2008.
The moral of this story is: if you are going to work for free (which Choe was essentially doing for Facebook back in 2005), make sure you are getting some equity in the company in lieu of payment. You never know!
Also, having Sean Parker on board doesn’t hurt. Just saying.