Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who became a billionaire on Friday after the world’s largest technology initial public offering, said he never believed his $30,000 investment would go so far.
“Something I would’ve never imagined was when I put all my life savings into the company, that it would have been an IPO at this level,” Saverin said by phone from his home in Singapore. “You never imagine that $30,000 accumulated through your life, through gifts and birthday parties and other events, and investing it in the company would create this type of returns.”
Saverin, 30, was part of a group of students at Harvard who in 2004 started the social-networking site now used by more than 901 million users. He renounced US citizenship in September.
His stake is likely to be worth $2.9 billion, based on the company’s 1.9 billion total shares outstanding with the IPO. Facebook boosted the offering’s price range to as much as $38 a share. The shares began trading on Friday under the symbol FB on Nasdaq.
Saverin owns about 4% of the company, according to whoownsfacebook.com. He declined to discuss his percentage, the valuation, or how much tax he will save by dropping US citizenship, which according to a Bloomberg analysis is at least $67 million.
Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg could be worth more than $20 billion after the IPO, giving him a fortune comparable to those of Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Google co-founder Sergey Brin is worth about $19.1 billion.
Saverin, a Brazilian national by birth who moved to the US as a child, became a US citizen in 1998. He said he relocated to Singapore in 2009 because it’s an easy place to live, people speak English and it’s a travel hub.
“I did not think once about my position related to tax savings,” he said. “The whole idea that that was important to me or part of my consideration is not accurate.”
Renouncing US citizenship was about “simplicity of focus so that my time and efforts can be spent on what matters to me,” he said, including investing in new early-stage technology startups, such as Facebook.
The Washington Post