Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin opens up to Brazilian magazine
Despite past friction between them, Savering calls Mark Zuckerberg "a visionary"
He says that, despite renouncing citizenship, he's paying taxes in U.S.
Saverin made an estimated $2 billion from Facebook's stock offering
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, known to many people more as an aggrieved movie character or perceived tax dodger than as an actual person, has finally spoken out.
In an interview with a magazine in his family’s native Brazil, Saverin – a newly minted billionaire after Facebook’s public stock offering – talked about his taxes, his relationship with co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and life after “The Social Network.”
Many observers believe Saverin, who, according to the Facebook origin story was slighted by Zuckerberg as the site grew, was a primary source for the book “The Accidental Billionaires,” on which “Social Network” is based.
But the end result was “fantasy,” he said. And, no, he never angrily threw a laptop at Zuckerberg as his Hollywood counterpart, Andrew Garfield, did in the film. It’s a statement Fabio Altman, of magazine Veja, writes is instantly believable given Saverin’s reserved nature.
“That’s Hollywood, not a documentary,” the 30-year-old Saverin says in the interview conducted in his multimillion-dollar residence in Singapore.
Saverin filed a lawsuit against Facebook over his reduced stake in the company, and the legal dispute was settled out of court. But despite well-documented friction over the years, Saverin says he bears no ill will toward Zuckerberg.
“I can only speak well of Mark; I don’t resent him,” Saverin said. “His focus from Day One until today is admirable. He was a visionary and always knew Facebook would only grow if it remained true to its central idea of people presenting themselves truthfully and without pseudonyms.
“That is the great power of Facebook that allowed it to transform into an instrument of protest, as in Egypt, but also as an instrument of business and, beyond that, a natural way to have contact with friends.”
Saverin has had little to do with Facebook in recent years. But he re-entered the public consciousness recently when, days before Facebook stock was due to hit Wall Street, he renounced his U.S. citizenship in favor of Singapore, where he has lived since 2009.
Many saw it as a dodge – a way to avoid paying U.S. taxes on his share of the company, valued somewhere around $2 billion. He says that’s not the case and noted that, as has been reported, he’s paying his taxes.
“The decision was strictly based on my interest of living and working in Singapore,” he said. “I am obligated and I will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the American government. I already paid and I will keep paying whatever taxes I owe based on my time as a U.S. citizen.”
Saverin’s father, Roberto, echoed those thoughts in the article.
“It was hard for me, because of the life I built in the U.S., hearing from Eduardo that he had to give up on his citizenship,” he said. “But he did this not because he wanted to, but because he had no other choice as a foreigner living in Singapore, where financial transactions are more restricted and bureaucratic for those who hold a U.S. passport. There was no other way.”
Roberto and his family emigrated to the United States from Brazil amid political turmoil, and Saverin’s registered place of birth is Miami.
Saverin continues to work as an investor and partner in Internet startups from his Singapore apartment, where an office contains three, 27-inch Mac monitors on which he constantly monitors everything from stock prices to the weather, Altman writes.
As for Facebook itself? Saverin still has his own profile, with more than 1 million people subscribed to it. But he uses it almost exclusively for news about his new startups, keeping the personal details to himself.
“I don’t like showing my private life online,” he said.