Facebook Co-Founder Renounces U.S. Citizenship Before Company’s Gargantuan IPO

May 17, 2012 by · Comments Off on Facebook Co-Founder Renounces U.S. Citizenship Before Company’s Gargantuan IPO 

Eduardo Saverin, one of the four original founders of Facebook, renounced his American citizenship last year, but news of the fact didn’t hit the broadband until last week. Given that Facebook’s big IPO is in its final countdown, a personal public relations quagmire has ensued. It’s assumed he gave up his citizenship to avoid paying his share of taxes once his fortune balloons — he owns a little bit less than 5 percent of Facebook, a company whose valuation is the biggest in history. However, the scandal hasn’t affected Facebook itself; Saverin stopped working for the company years ago.


Born in 1982 in São Paulo, Brazil, Saverin moved to Miami, Florida during his childhood. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen, co-founded Facebook, and graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics. At present, his net worth hovers around 2 billion.

After arriving in Singapore in 2009, he found it enough to his liking that he opted, a mere two years later (January 2011), to petition to have his U.S. citizenship revoked. He calls himself a “global citizen” and plans to become a permanent resident of Singapore — a country that skips out on capital gains taxes.

For Saverin, turning his back on the Stars and Stripes will also mean that when he passes his assets on to heirs, there’ll be no 35 percent estate tax levied. Interviewed by the New York Times on the matter, Saverin claimed ignorance about tax laws.

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Katherine Losse, Once Facebook Employee Number 51, Pens “Tell-All”

May 16, 2012 by · Comments Off on Katherine Losse, Once Facebook Employee Number 51, Pens “Tell-All” 

If you’re looking for an insider’s view of Facebook, it’s almost here. The 26th of June, Katherine Losse’s The Boy Kings: A Journey Into the Heart of the Social Network will be out in print. Free Press, a Simon & Schuster division, is publishing. Losse is Mark Zuckerberg’s former personal writer. She worked at Facebook from 2005 to 2010, and was Facebook’s 51st hire. According biographical details currently circulating the web, Losse first worked as a Facebook customer service representative. Subsequently, she took on the role of ghostwriter for the Big Boss. Although unconfirmed, the Phoenix, Ariz.-native is credited with authoring most of Zuckerberg’s emails during her tenure. At the moment, Losse lives the life of a writer in Marfa, Texas.


Whether investing or not investing in Facebook stock this month, a lot of folks will be keen on getting new clues to Facebook’s rise to the top of the Internet totem pole. Losse’s non-fiction work is being marketed as a “tell-all,” so the book’s guaranteed to stir up interest. Facebook’s IPO is expected by May 18th.

Other well-known tomes about Facebook history and lore include The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich and The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick. David Fincher’s Oscar-winning film, The Social Network, was based on Mezrich’s work.

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Instagram Goes Android, Bought by Facebook for $1 Billion

April 11, 2012 by · Comments Off on Instagram Goes Android, Bought by Facebook for $1 Billion 

Instagram hit the App Store October 2010 as a free, photo-sharing social network for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Although it’s expanded to Androids, and its pictures can be shared on the Web, it’s still strictly a mobile app. Instagram became big with the under-25 crowd, whose members loved to post vintage-y looking snapshots with a little help from the app’s sixteen filters for digital photos. Like on Twitter, posters could follow and be followed, and like on Facebook, users could comment on pictures.

Facebook saw a dangerous rival, and before Instagramers finished complaining about the April influx of Android users, the news spread that Facebook had just bought the 13-employee company for $1 billion. Suddenly, Instagram was losing some of its cool, though going mainstream always means more money.

About the purchase, Mark Zuckerberg said: “It’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.”

Above, the Kodak Instamatic is pictured — it’s the old-school cam, along with the Polaroid, that inspires the look of Instagram’s filters.

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Facebook: Don’t Hand Over Or Request Profile Passwords

March 23, 2012 by · Comments Off on Facebook: Don’t Hand Over Or Request Profile Passwords 

Recently, media outlets have been reporting about a new jobseeker experience: would-be employers requesting Facebook passwords to vet comportment online. The reports have said that the job applicants were asked, and not forced, to hand in their passwords, but the inherent imbalance of power between the parties involved makes it seem a lot like coercion. Don’t hand over your password and you won’t get the job, seems to be the subtext of the request.

Facebook has taken action on the matter: as of today, the company deems it a violation of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password. The announcement of the change in rules was made on the company’s Web site. Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer wrote the announcement. In her words:

In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.

Facebook is already being applauded for standing up for the privacy of its users, at least in this matter.

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Bracing Itself for More Suits, Facebook Buys 750 IBM Patents

March 22, 2012 by · Comments Off on Bracing Itself for More Suits, Facebook Buys 750 IBM Patents 

It’s official: Facebook brass confirmed that the company bought I.B.M. patents pertaining to software and networking technology. What hasn’t been confirmed, though, is just how much the world’s most popular social network paid to obtain ownership of those patents. According to Bloomberg, I.B.M. handed over 750 patents during the transaction.

At the start of February, when Facebook submitted paperwork necessary to go public, the company revealed that it held, at the time, 56 patents; it had formally applied for 503. Media analysts are predicting that Facebook will be the target of patent suits in the coming months, if not years, due the enormity of its imminent IPO. Yahoo has already taken it patent beef with Facebook to court in San Jose, Calif.

The social Web behemoth even acknowledged its special litigious predicament with regard to patents in the documents turned over the SEC in the February S-1 filing. The recent big buy is believed to have cost Facebook hundreds of millions, but it just may save it from losing greater amounts to weaker market rivals that nevertheless possess more robust intellectual property portfolios.

Overall, Facebook is expected to make through this phase of vulnerability to patent suits. It’s unclear how well its rivals will fare as their popularity continues to diminish.

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Yahoo Sues Facebook Over Patent Infringement

March 13, 2012 by · Comments Off on Yahoo Sues Facebook Over Patent Infringement 

Yesterday, March 12, 2012, in a San Jose, Calif. District Court, Yahoo filed a suit against Facebook alleging ten counts of patent infringement. It hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that the filing comes during the hyper-buzzed buildup to Facebook’s big IPO, which is expected in May, or that both companies are current business partners.

Michael J. de la Merced, writing for the New York Times, reported late last month that representatives from both companies had met to discuss Yahoo’s then-potential suit. At the time, Yahoo stated that it had “a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property,” and that had to “insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement” or that it would “move forward unilaterally to protect [its] rights.”

Reacting to yesterday’s filing, Facebook said: “We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation. Once again, we learned of Yahoo’s decision simultaneously with the media. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions.”

The technologies Yahoo is suing over are wide-ranging, and include, as worded in the case file, “messaging, news feed generation, social commenting, advertising displays,” and click fraud prevention and privacy controls. Above, Scott Thompson is seen; Thompson was named CEO at Yahoo only this past January.

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Will Millionaire Lady Gaga Pay More Taxes than Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg?

February 8, 2012 by · Comments Off on Will Millionaire Lady Gaga Pay More Taxes than Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg? 

Thanks to her skills on stage and attention-grabbing personality and ensembles, Lady Gaga’s lavishly loaded. But despite the fantastic account balances the Lady may be viewing during her ATM visits, the fact is that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rapidly expanding billionaire fortune easily dwarfs the money piles of the “Born This Way” singer. So why is it, then, that if Gaga’s earnings have remained relatively steady, she may end up paying more to the taxman in 2012 than Zuckerberg?

David S. Miller, a celebrated tax lawyer from New York, sorts out some of the issues behind this bizarre state of affairs. In a recently published opinion piece written for the New York Times, Miller even muses about what he calls the “Zuckerberg tax.” He espouses the later as a much better alternative to the “Buffet rule” that’s sort of making the rounds in Washington. Both proposed taxes aim to make the tax burden more equitably distributed among Americans of all income levels. Miller’s imagined Zuckerberg tax would make unsold stock susceptible to income taxation.

In the coming years, Zuckerberg will have plenty of unsold Facebook shares on which he will pay no taxes, but next year at least, he’s expected to make history after paying a tax bill exceeding $2 billion on account of stock maneuverings that he’s expected to make in an effort to secure more control over the company he’s built.

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Facebook Has Yet to Make Money From Users on Mobile Devices

February 6, 2012 by · Comments Off on Facebook Has Yet to Make Money From Users on Mobile Devices 

Facebook has 845 million users and it’s believed that over half of them access their profiles and those of their Friends using a smartphone or other portable device. This makes glaring sense if one remembers how much there is to like about the iPhone we clutch every day, but for Facebook, that elementary fact poses a risk that’s big enough to merit inclusion in its celebrated IPO filing.

Facebook’s whiz engineers are already trying to figure out what to do about it. Remember the rumor about the Buffy — the Facebook cell phone? Facebook has good reason to get to business on this matter because its future growth lies in countries that really dig their mobile devices. People in Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, and other similarly positioned markets are active on Facebook and they like to conduct Web errands and online presence maintenance tasks on their phones.

Research findings by eMarketer suggest that compared to last year, advertising spending on mobile devices in the U.S. will rise by 80 percent. Another not-to-be-missed market indicator: in 2011, smartphone shipments were higher than those of personal computers. Some analysts are saying that the key to this dilemma will be found in location-based innovations. In any case, although Facebook has been criticized for not releasing an iPad app until last fall, the company’s deliberate pace has already proved to work in its favor.

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The Fortune and Power of Mark Zuckerberg

February 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Fortune and Power of Mark Zuckerberg 

Among the deluge of Facebook articles currently in circulation, two are particularly interesting for their distinct focus on the man behind it all: twenty-seven-year-old Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, of White Plains, New York (at this stage, his saga certainly deserves some historicizing). The first, written by Somini Sengupta, appears in the New York Times; the second in the Los Angeles Times, and is written by perennial tech-beat savant Nathaniel Olivarez-Giles.

Sengupta highlights the degree of control that Zuckerberg has managed to retain at this significant stage of maturation for Facebook; as the company heads into its colossal IPO, Le Zuck holds approximately 60 percent of his company’s shares as well as three out of five board chairs — that means he has an almost unprecedented amount of control over a company of such proportions. Sengupta also discusses the important role former-Facebook president Sean Parker had in advising and guiding Zuckerberg to such levels of company power.

Olivarez-Giles shares that starting January 1, 2013, the person behind “frictionless sharing” will be paid only $1 dollar per year for his work as company CEO. Zuckerberg’s salary for 2012 is expected to be $600,000, but it’s unlikely he’ll be missing the six-figure salary since his personal fortune is about to rocket into the eleven-figure range, and the new token salary is a tradition among ultra-rich leaders — the late Steve Jobs from Apple, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and even Google CEO Larry Page have all received that loneliest of numbers as their base annual salary.

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Graffiti Artist David Choe’s Facebook Stock Worth $200 Million

February 2, 2012 by · Comments Off on Graffiti Artist David Choe’s Facebook Stock Worth $200 Million 

Thanks to Facebook’s upcoming IPO, David Choe, a graffiti artist from Los Angeles’ Koreatown, is about to become a millionaire hundreds of times over. Back in 2005, Choe was invited by Sean Parker, the then-president of Facebook, to paint interior murals for the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. When Facebook’s headquarters were moved north to Menlo Park, Choe was invited again to spruce up the new walls, this time by the social network’s CEO and co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

It seems that Choe is very big on foresight: he opted to receive company shares instead of currency for his work. Those shares are now expected to be worth some $200 million. Choe is among an elite cadre of approximately one thousand individuals slated to become millionaires later this year when they cash in their Facebook stock. The company is expected to go public around May.

A detail of Choe’s mural work for Facebook can be seen in the image above — the network’s famous homepage atlas motif has been re-imagined with a good dose of vibrancy and humor. Although he began experimenting with his art in the streets of Los Angeles, David Choe also honed his talent in Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts.

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