The artist who painted Facebook's 1st office took stock instead of cash — and now he is worth $200 million
Sean Parker persuaded artist David Choe to take stock instead of cash for painting the walls of Facebook's first office. Now that stock is worth $200 million.
This exchange happened back in 2005, when Facebook was just a startup. According to an interview Choe had with Howard Stern in 2014, Parker — the founding president of Facebook — had been a fan of Choe's work for some time.
So when Facebook's first office needed decorating, Parker called on Choe.
As a college-focused social network, Mark Zuckerberg's company was everything Choe, who had dropped out of school and had no interest in anything like MySpace or Friendster, hated.
Choe had been charging more and more for his work, but having just come out of prison, he was broke. So he asked Facebook for $60,000 to decorate the whole building. Instead he walked away with stock — and no guarantees Facebook would amount to anything.
"Most people would have said, 'Look, you know the odds of anybody really taking off with an internet company,'" Stern said in his interview with Choe. "Most of these companies come and go all the time, especially back then. So, you must have been half out of your mind to turn down the $60,000."
But Choe said it was his faith in Parker that convinced him to take the stock.
Parker, this "skinny, nerdy kid," told Choe he was going to raise money for Facebook.
"He got a super-sharp haircut, started working out every day, got tan, got a nice suit," Choe added. "I'm like, 'This guy's crazy.'"
But then Parker persuaded PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman to invest in the company.
"I believed in Sean," Choe said. "I didn't care about Face[book]. I'm like, this kid knows something, and I'm going to bet my money on him."
Choe said he was there when Thiel invested in Facebook, so knew the company would be able to pay the $60,000 he had asked for.
But before he even started painting, Choe had agreed to take a chance on the company.
"I like to gamble, you know," he told Stern.Here's Choe's interview with Stern in full: