According to a regulatory filing on Tuesday, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first institutional investor, sold nearly three-quarters of his remaining stake in Facebook Inc. Thiel now owns 59,913 Class A shares in Facebook, after selling 160,805 shares which netted him around $28.7 million. Thiel co-founded payment processing giant PayPal, along with Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. Thiel has been an active investor throughout Silicon Valley, including investments in Yelp, LinkedIn and Friendster.
Thiel invested $500,000 in Facebook in 2004, gaining him a board seat which he still holds, and 2.5 percent of the company at the time of the IPO. This was the first outside investment in Facebook, and put the valuation of the company at $4.9 million.
In 2012 Thiel sold off 16.8 million shares in the initial Facebook IPO, giving him $640 million. Later that same year Thiel sold roughly another 20 million of his remaining 26 million shares for $400 million, which would now be worth over $3.6 billion today should he had decided to keep them. It has come to be believed that the sell was part of a pre-determined trading plan designed to protect company insiders from accusations of insider trading. Others believe Thiel fell into the camp of investors who doubted Facebook’s ability to transition its advertising business to mobile, thus leading to the share dump.
In 2016 Thiel hit the market once again, selling a little less than 1 million shares for about $100 million. A Facebook representative has called Thiel’s sale of shares routine, also saying there was nothing new to say about the billionaire’s seat on the company’s board.
Thiel was the tech industry’s biggest booster of Donald Trump; having donated $1.25 million to Trump’s presidential campaign. He also organized a meeting of tech CEOs with Trump last December. However, recently Thiel has reportedly become disillusioned with the administration.
Facebook shares have surged 58 percent this year, trading at $180.56 per share on Wednesday afternoon. Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune has expanded around $25 billion due to the share increase, making him the world’s fourth-richest person. Thiel has a net worth of about $3.2 billion.
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