David Choe was convinced to paint the first Facebook office for stocks instead of cash, and they are now worth $200 million.
In 2005, founding Facebook president Sean Parker persuaded the artist to do the work in exchange for stocks when the company was just a startup. Choe spoke about the experience during an interview with Howard Stern in 2014, and he said that Parker called him to do the job after developing a taste for his work, writes Lucy England for Business Insider.
Gamble pays off for artist Choe
At that point Facebook was focused on college students, and school dropout Choe had nothing in common with the company, nor any interest in social networks like MySpace or Friendster.
Choe’s career was progressing and he was able to charge higher prices for his work, but a recent prison sentence had left him broke. As a result he said he would decorate the entire Facebook building for $60,000, but Parker convinced him to take stock instead.
“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.”
Faith in Parker inspired decision to take Facebook stock
However Choe claims that Parker inspired him to take the stock despite a lack of assurances that it would be worth anything. At the time, Parker was a “skinny, nerdy kid” who told Choe that he was going to raise money for the company. “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.'”
However, Parker’s work paid off after he convinced PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman to get on board and invest in Facebook. “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 claims that he knew that Facebook would at least be able to give him the $60,000 he had originally asked for, because he was present when Thiel decided to invest in the company. However he still took a risk in backing the company before he had even started painting.
“I like to gamble, you know,” he told Stern.