When Facebook stock publicly trades later this year, scads of people will turn into billionaires and millionaires seemingly overnight. One person who stands to gain an estimated $200 million is graffiti artist David Choe, who, in lieu of payment, was given shares of Facebook after his work adorned the walls at the first Facebook headquarters back in 2005. According to Fast Company, "In 2005 Sean Parker commissioned Choe to paint more provocative art, in the form of graphic sexually-themed murals on the walls of Facebook's early Silicon Valley HQ, and in 2008 Mark Zuckerberg asked him to paint more restrained ones on the new HQ's walls."
Who is Choe, exactly? His website paints him as a "homeless" albeit happy-go-lucky wanderer: "David Choe was born in 1976, in Los Angeles. Today he is currently homeless, wandering the Earth making good art and bad music. His favorite places are Vietnam, Israel, NYC, and the Bay Area." When asked backed in '05 whether or not Choe wanted "thousands of dollars" or stock options, the artist choose wisely. The New York Times reports:
The payout to Mr. Choe, the graffiti artist, could provide more money from his paintings than Sotheby’s attracted for its record-breaking $200.7 million auction in 2008 for work by Damien Hirst.
In 2005, Mr. Choe was invited to paint murals on the walls of Facebook’s first offices in Palo Alto, Calif., by Sean Parker, then Facebook’s president. As pay, Mr. Parker offered Mr. Choe a choice between cash in the “thousands of dollars,” according to several people who know Mr. Choe, or stock then worth about the same.
Mr. Choe, who has said that at the time that he thought the idea of Facebook was “ridiculous and pointless,” nevertheless chose the stock.
The newly filed IPO is all the talk of Silicon Valley and beyond. After listening to a story on NPR about Facebook this morning, here's what every single excruciating and pompus NPR caller had to say about this newfangled social media thingamajig: "Um, I really just don't think it's that fun anymore or interesting, like, I really just prefer relationships in the real world, like, not on the computer? And they keep changing everything and it's just like too much, you know? I don't really go on there anymore. Me and my friends we just think facebook is kind of over, you know?"
We paraphrasing, of course, but... we almost resorted to hurling our radio (yes, we still listen to radio) out the window in a white-hot rage.
In related news, an aggressively Occupy Wall Street-sounding Zuckerberg wrote a letter to investors prio to yesterday's IPO filing, telling them that Facebook isn't about how Farmville and baby photo updates are making the company billions. Instead, it's about how Facebook will "change how people relate to their governments and social institutions."
By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume. They cannot be ignored. Over time, we expect governments will become more responsive to issues and concerns raised directly by all their people rather than through intermediaries controlled by a select few.
Through this process, we believe that leaders will emerge across all countries who are pro-internet and fight for the rights of their people, including the right to share what they want and the right to access all information that people want to share with them.
Facebook filed for its initial public offering on Wednesday.