1. February 2012–
As the world prepares for the most hotly anticipated tech flotation since Google, certain familiar faces are becoming billionaires. What are we doing? Listening to Bono non-stop on our headphones and counting down our favorite of the pretty faces.
But first, a quick run-down of the top investors:
Let’s see… Zuckerberg owns 24% of Facebook (valued at $20.4 billion), making him the 10th richest person in the U.S. After that, Accel Partners owns the second biggest stake (at 15% it’s $12.75 billion.) Rumor is Accel’s managing partner Jim Breyer offered Zuckerberg a $400 bottle of wine to seal the investment brought on by then Associate (now Accel Partner) Kevin Efrusy walking up to Facebook’s Palo Alto offices, uninvited, on April Fool’s Day, in 2005.
The next biggest share comes from Dustin Moskovitz ($5.1 billion at 6%), former employee and Harvard roommate. Then side-by-side (with 5% each) are Russian Internet holding company, Digital Sky (led by wealthy Russian oligarch and owner of Facebook clone VKontakte Yuri Milner) and Eduardo Saverin, one of three originally founders notoriously screwed over in the Social Network…
OK whew! Now for the fun part: Who are our favorites?
1. Sean Parker: The first president
Parker is the scruffy-faced badboy credited with turning Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard social experiment into the 100 billion dollar business we know it as today. As a veteran Silicon Valley investor (previously Spotify, Napster, online address book Plaxo, etc.), Parker is responsible for taking Facebook global and reportedly getting rid of the pesty “the” that preceded the name (according to The Social Network, ‘thefacebook’)
Why we like him: He was snarky and cool when we met him at LeWeb this year. He’s the spawn of an advertising broker and an oceanographer. He’s poured thousands of dollars into legalizing marijuana. He’s engaged to Alexandra Lenas, who is often reported to have ‘stolen his heart.’
2. Bono: The living legend
Aside from all our U2 oohs and ahs, Bono is also the co-founder of investment firm Elevation Partners, the company whose Facebook stock is held to be over $1 billion. Quite aside from getting in on the Facebook swing, he’s made a few careless investments and he still continues to rock our world. Not bad for someone once named “the worst investor in America” by a finance blog.
Why we like him: Aside from writing the best song ever, he’s been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. He lost hundreds of millions investing in Forbes (innocent enough). He’s the face of fusion philanthropy, and became a knight in 2007.
3. Sheryl Sandberg: The public face
As Facebook’s current COO, Sandberg has turned Facebook into a profitable advertising-based operation. She and Zuckerberg warmed up to each other at Davos in 2008, and the rest is history. Before joining Facebook, she was Vice President at Google and Chief of Staff at the US Treasury. She’s also the one primarily responsible for launching Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org.
Why we like her: She’s media savvy but also a killer businesswoman. She taught aerobics in high school in the 80s. She’s hot and fierce, and ruling the world.
4. Mark Pincus: The Resident Gamer
Pincus is Zynga’s CEO, the gaming monolith that owns FarmVillage, CityVille and Mafia Wars. Aside from drawing more that 200 million users regularly on to Facebook, he’s also a straight-up investor in Facebook itself.
Why we like him: He’s 45 with the smile of a 10-year-old. He’s married to Ali Pincus, the founder of American homeware sales store One Kings Lane. He named Zynga after his bulldog.
5. Reid Hoffman: The Sharp Shooter
Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn and one of Facebook’s earliest investors, arranging its first funding round with remarkable success. According to David Kirkpatrick’s book The Facebook Effect, Hoffman introduced Mark Zuckerberg to Peter Thiel, initiating Thiel’s early $500,000 angel investment in the company. Outside of Facebook, Hoffman is known as one of the brightest bulbs in the VC world, taking interest also in Digg, Flickr and Last.fm. According to venture capitalist David Sze, Hoffman “is arguably the most successful angel investor in the past decade”.
Why we like him: He has a degree in philosophy from Oxford. His first company was an online dating service (SocialNet.com). He also serves on the board of Endeavor Global, an international non-profit development organization that finds and supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
Image credit in order of appearance: Flickr user Rev Billy, The Church of Earthalujah & The Stop Sh, LeWEB12, World Economic Forum (x2), Crunchies2009, Joi.