Meet the world’s youngest billionaire (and it’s not Zuckerberg)

18 May 2012

Dustin Moskovitz. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

He’s a Harvard dropout, Facebook co-founder and he’s the world’s youngest billionaire by just eight days. Meet Dustin Moskovitz.

Dustin Moskovitz was the third employee of Facebook and its first CTO. Though he didn’t share the same Harvard University dorm room with fellow founders Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin and Chris Hughes, he still played a valuable role in the development of the world’s biggest social network, and has been repaid handsomely for it.

Moskovitz dropped out of college in 2004 to move to Silicon Valley with Zuckerberg, and the rest is recent and lucrative history.

After today’s IPO, Moskovitz’s 126m Facebook shares have an estimated worth of US$4.8bn. Facing his 28th birthday next Tuesday, he is younger than Facebook’s chairman and CEO Zuckerberg by just eight days, giving him the privilege of claiming the title of world’s youngest billionaire over his coding compadre.

The other guy

Played by Joseph Mazzello in David Fincher’s acclaimed but largely fictional The Social Network, Moskovitz’s character has a small role to play in the film. You’ll hardly even remember him as the other guy in the room with Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield.

The reality is, Moskovitz played a crucial role in the establishment of the social network, eventually becoming vice-president of engineering, directing the technical staff and overseeing the major architecture of the site. He’s also seen as being responsible for the company’s mobile Wstrategy and development.

Two of the other key players in Facebook’s foundation also appear on Forbes’ list of the world’s 20 youngest billionaires: Eduardo Saverin (30), who caused a media storm this week when he renounced his US citizenship to avoid paying taxes, and Sean Parker (31), who became president of Facebook after he co-founded Napster and has now moved on to another online music distributor, Spotify.  

Business is chillness

Moskovitz no longer works for Facebook, having left the company in 2008 to start a tech venture of his own. Asana is an online collaboration and productivity tool that helps to organise tasks and teams. Clearly, his former classmate’s casual business style rubbed off on him as stated among the company’s listed values is “Chillness”.

The youthful billionaire has since established Good Ventures, a non-profit philanthropic foundation, with his fiancée, Cari Tuna, and it seems the billions earned from Facebook’s success have not changed him much – at least as far as transport is concerned. He still rides a bicycle to work and he doesn’t fly first class.

Also, he claims to never even have met the Winklevoss twins.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.