Facebook is unabashedly the most popular website on the Internet, dominating total time spent online and coming in a close second in total overall web traffic. As such, news that Facebook would finally issue an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock sent investors swooning like we haven’t seen since 2004, when a little outfit called Google first issued its own public stock. (Google, by the by, is the reigning champ in total web traffic that Facebook has yet to usurp.)

Now, Facebook is not Google, and drawing comparisons between the two is a tenuous exercise — not least because Facebook is developing its IPO with the knowledge of how Google’s IPO went down. For example, there have as yet been no ultra-nerdy math jokes hidden in the Facebook IPO filings. More germane to the financial sector, Facebook is looking at a fairly traditional IPO as opposed to the unconventional “Dutch auction” sale that Google employed, which allowed the search engine’s stock to be bought by any accredited trading house from day one.

Put more simply, Facebook’s existing investors and private stockholders are going to reap the biggest benefits from the IPO, and it’s extremely unlikely that any of us common folk are going to get a shot at buying the stock before its share price skyrockets to record levels. The big winners from the IPO are Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs’s clients, a handful of venture capital funds, and Facebook’s three cofounders: Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Mark Zuckerberg.

That said, three individual investors stand to make a substantial amount of money, despite not being founders — and in the cases of two of them, not being employees — of Facebook.


Get the answer.

To no Facebook geek’s surprise, Sean Parker — the guy played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network and famous in his own right for founding Napster — is one of the trio of Facebook IPO super-beneficiaries.

Venture capital fanboys (they exist) also won’t be surprised to learn that PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel — Facebook’s original VC investor — is the second non-founder ready to rake in crazy IPO profits.

The final member of the super-profit trio? Bono, the lead singer from U2. He bought equity in Facebook via his shell investment firm Elevation Partners.

Facebook is looking to raise $5 billion from its IPO against a $100 billion total valuation. If that price holds, here’s what the top six individual investors look to own in Facebook stock:

  • Zuckerberg – $12 billion
  • Moskovitz – $3 billion
  • Saverin – $2.5 billion
  • Parker – $2 billion
  • Thiel – $1.5 billion
  • Bono – $750 million

Of course, the collective pool of Facebook employee stock is worth more than any of these profiteers, as they’ll earn an aggregate $15 billion if all goes according to plan. Get ready for another crop of Silicon Valley paper millionaires.

Those aren’t just some eye-popping personal profits; they’re a monetarily mind-numbing moment of Geek Trivia.

The quibble of the week

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week’s Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

Get the quibble.

This week’s quibble comes from the Feb. 10, 2012 edition of Geek Trivia, which asked why (and how) did the real-life US government rule that the fictional X-Men aren’t human?

Member Elezar pointed out I had a certain ownership relationship backwards:

“It was actually the other way around; Marvel was a partial owner of Toy Biz. Toy Biz got their royalty-free license to create toys based on Marvel properties, by giving Marvel almost 50% ownership of Toy Biz, and 10% ownership and a spot on the board of directors to Avi Arad.

“Toy Biz DID help fund Marvel Studios when it was first created, and owns quite a bit of stock in it (Presumably Avi Arad helped push this deal, as he was going to head Marvel Studios). But even though Marvel Studios’ largest shareholder is Marvel Comics, it’s a separate company with its own incorporation.”

Clearly I can’t read a stock-swap filing correctly. Thanks for the clarification, and keep those quibbles coming.