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Facebook finally goes public – but who actually cashed out?

Engel Schmidl /

Facebook finally hit the sharemarket last week after years of speculation, with investors and employees alike eager to watch their shares hit the market and cash in, after years of waiting for the company to go public.

Although the company’s shares didn’t rise as much as initially hoped – they ended the day up less than 0.5% – there were still plenty of investors happy to sell their shares at the opening price, reaping them a fortune.

There were also plenty more who haven’t sold anything at all, instead preferring to keep their fortunes on paper. Rock star Bono watched his stake rise to more than $US1 billion through Elevation Partners. Others were content to stay in the hundreds of millions, such as the artist who painted Facebook’s walls in 2005 – and was rewarded with stock instead of cash.

But there were others who opted to make the most of the float and cash in. Here are five of the biggest winners from last Friday’s float:

1. Mark Zuckerberg

The founder sold 30.2 million shares out of his entire holding, leaving him with a $US1.1 billion payout. It’s a huge amount of money, even after taxes, but it doesn’t come close to his final stake, somewhere in the region of $US19 billion.

It was a big weekend for Zuckerberg – he married his long-term girlfriend Priscilla Chan the day after the company went public.

2. Jim Breyer

Breyer was one of the first investors in Facebook through his company, Accel Partners, and it reaped a huge return on investment last week when the company sold 49 million shares. The payout? A cool $US1.8 billion.

Although the company will be receiving most of those returns, Breyer still owns a nice chunk of the business.

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