As far as I know, and my Web searching skills can take me, early Facebook investor Peter Thiel hasn’t yet publicly commented on the role of Eduardo Saverin, who co-founded and initially bankrolled ‘thefacebook’ back in the early days.
Well, Thiel did exactly that, on Big Think (video below). Asked who Saverin is, Thiel says he was “affiliated, quasi-employed at Facebook in 2004”. The fun doesn’t stop there.
If you’re familiar with the origins of Facebook, whether or not you call yourself familiar with it because you’ve seen the movie The Social Network or not, you’ll know that Saverin was pushed out just when things got rolling for the fledgling company.
This happened around the time PayPal co-founder turned investor Peter Thiel and Napster co-founder Sean Parker got involved. Saverin famously sued Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in April 2005, and prevailed. He still owns 5% of Facebook (which means he’s worth over $1 billion nowadays)
Thiel chides Saverin for not being cut out for his role and that he wasn’t remotely doing his job at the time, which was supposed to be selling advertisements for Facebook. Ultimately, Thiel says, Saverin did well for not doing much.
He also says The Social Network was “wrong on many levels”, and the Hollywood’s “caricature of capitalism”.
Update: We spoke to Peter Thiel today who felt his comments on Saverin were taken out of context and exaggerated by Big Think. He clarified, “I don’t have a strong opinion on his work performance, but I do think that he did very well during his very short time at Facebook. I didn’t mean it to be a hit on him.”
The full transcript is copied below the video, which can also be watched here.
Question: Who is Eduardo Saverin?
Peter Thiel: He was a student at Harvard who was affiliated, quasi-employed at Facebook in 2004.
Question: What kind of capitalism is it that cuts Eduardo Saverin out of Facebook?
Peter Thiel: Well, it is the kind of caricature of capitalism that one sees in Hollywood where, I think the movie was wrong on many levels. It was basically a description of sort of a zero sum world that is mainly the way Hollywood works where people gained at the expense of other people. You know I think Face… the story of Facebook has been one where it’s been an incredible positive sum gain for everybody involved for the investors, for the employees, and for the world at large. All the stakeholders have really gained tremendously.
You know, I don’t think… I don’t think that Eduardo was cut out. You know, he was not doing his job and therefore you know. His job was to sell advertisements for Facebook and he was not remotely doing that job. You know, he ended up making a lot of money because he was partially involved and had helped in some small financial ways in getting the site started at the very beginning at Harvard. But I think the overall context of it was that it is a story where he did extraordinarily well relative to what he had done and I think there’s a very… there’s a very different.