Facebook Co-Founder Moskovitz Builds a Second Fortune With Asana
(Bloomberg) -- When Dustin Moskovitz stepped away from Facebook Inc. four years after helping start the company, the 24-year-old owned a piece of the social-media giant that today would be worth about $18 billion.
Now he has another fortune to rival the first. Moskovitz has been vacuuming up shares of Asana Inc., the task-management company he left Facebook to create. Asana shares have skyrocketed more than 250% since mid-May, giving Moskovitz a stake valued at almost $8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Moskovitz’s second act is a demonstration of Facebook’s power to mint new fortunes. Another co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, used part of his winnings to create venture capital firm B Capital Group, which has reported about $1.8 billion in assets.
Moskowitz, who turned 37 in May, began buying additional Asana stock in June, and by the end of September his holding had increased by more than a third to 76.6 million shares. He’s now worth $26 billion, and is the fourth-richest person under 40 globally on Bloomberg’s index.
At the top of the list is Mark Zuckerberg, whose 15% ownership of Facebook makes him the world’s fourth-richest person with $126.5 billion.
A spokesperson for Asana declined to comment on Moskovitz’s behalf.
Moskovitz co-created Facebook in 2004 from the Harvard University dorm room he shared with Zuckerberg. After the pair dropped out to move to Silicon Valley, Moskovitz became Facebook’s first chief technology officer and later vice president of engineering.
As the firm grew, Moskovitz and a colleague -- Justin Rosenstein, best known as the creator of the “Like” button -- started building task-management tools to help Facebook employees spend less time doing “work about work.” In 2008 they left to give the project their full attention.
Asana, which allows users to inspect other employees’ progress, leave comments or add new tasks, reached unicorn status in 2018 with a valuation above $1 billion. It went public in a direct listing in September 2020 with a market value of $5.5 billion and Moskovitz as its chief executive officer.
"The company produces software that enhances worker productivity, which has seen significant traction for enterprise customers in the work-from-anywhere era," said Amine Bensaid, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.
When he left Facebook in 2008, Moskovitz parted on good terms, saying he would “forever bleed Facebook blue.”
That wasn’t the case for Saverin. He settled a legal dispute with Facebook in 2009 over the dilution of his stake in the company after the arrival of new investors. The settlement gave Saverin an undisclosed holding in the company and the right to be listed as a co-founder on Facebook’s website.
The riches Saverin earned from Facebook -- his stake today is worth about $18 billion, according to the wealth index -- enabled him to provide some of the seed capital for the investment firm that he co-founded in 2015. B Capital Group focuses on tech companies that have the potential to digitize big industries. Unlike Asana, however, it remains closely held and comprises only a fraction of its founder’s net worth.
Saverin, 39, who has lived in Singapore since 2009, renounced his U.S. citizenship a decade ago, just before Facebook’s initial public offering. The decision may have exempted him from tens of millions of dollars in tax liability.
A spokesperson for Saverin had no immediate comment.
A fourth Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, 37, who roomed with Moskovitz and Zuckerberg at Harvard, took another tack when he left the firm. He used his Facebook fortune to try to turn around the New Republic magazine -- a venture that ended disastrously -- and co-founded the non-profit Economic Security Project, which supports stronger anti-monopoly regulations and a guaranteed income for all Americans. He advocated breaking up Facebook in a 2019 New York Times op-ed.
In the months before its September 2020 direct listing, Moskovitz loaned Asana $450 million. In exchange for the cash, the San Francisco-based company gave him convertible promissory notes. It could repay Moskovitz by converting the notes into Asana stock at a predetermined rate.
The company chose to convert them on July 1, according to regulatory filings. That effectively handed Moskovitz more than 17 million shares of Asana’s class B stock at a price just above $31 at a time when they were trading at $63. The shares were down 2.9% to $100.83 at 11:13 a.m. in New York.
In 2010, Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, became the youngest couple ever to sign the Giving Pledge, which commits them to donate most of their wealth to charity.
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