PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Facebook's first major investor and also a board member, has sold off the majority of his shares. Thiel invested $500,000 in Facebook in 2004, and has made more than $1 billion from that investment, the Wall Street Journal notes. He had already sold some shares before the IPO and some during the IPO; most recently, he sold 20.1 million shares and distributed another 2.2 million, making around $395.8 million—quite a bit less than the $762 million he would have made had he sold the shares during May's IPO, when stock was priced at $38 per share. Thiel pre-arranged the deal when the stock was still at that level, TechCrunch notes. He still has 5.6 million shares.
The Journal is quick to note that Thiel made a bundle off his original investment, and that early investors often sell off their stakes after a company goes public. Even so, the timing is bad for Facebook, considering how poorly its stock is doing. "Imagine being a Facebook employee right now and seeing Thiel sell the majority of his stock at what many are hoping is its low point," writes Billy Gallagher on TechCrunch. Indeed, shares hit a record low yesterday—less than half the IPO price at $18.75—before closing at $20.01, the San Jose Mercury News reports. All of this is also bad news for Instagram, which Facebook purchased for a deal valued at $1 billion—at the time. Since Facebook paid quite a bit of that in shares, that deal has now lost Instagram nearly $300 million, the New York Times notes. (Read more Peter Thiel stories.)