Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin Bravely Renounces US Citizenship Ahead Of IPO
Depending on who you ask, Eduardo Saverin's flight from the country just before Facebook's IPO nets him around $4 billion is either a shameless shirking of responsibility or a brave and sensible stand against the convoluted US tax system. His planned destination of Singapore has no capital gains tax. Despite being a key figure in the creation of the most ubiquitous social tool, everything the average person knows about Saverin comes from a movie.
As portrayed by Andrew Garfield in "The Social Network," Eduardo Saverin is the closest thing the film has to a hero. Hollywood's version of Mark Zuckerberg steals ideas, betrays partners, acts superior to everyone he meets, and wonders why they don't like him. Most poignant is the quiet squeezing out and divesting of his only friend Eduardo, using lawyers to inform him that his stake in the company is almost worthless thanks to share dilution. Of course, "The Social Network" is highly fictionalized, even by Hollywood standards; for one, the girl whose rejection of Zuckerberg bookends the story is entirely fabricated.
The real life Saverin is almost as doe-eyed and poofy-haired as the future Spider-Man actor who played him. But looks can be deceiving according to critics like Farhad Manjoo, who calls Saverin's timely flight from the country that nurtured him "abhorrent." Born in Brazil, Saverin's family left their homeland when his father, a high-profile businessman, learned street gangs planned to kidnap and ransom his 13 year old son. Growing up in America, Manjoo contends, gave Saverin everything he needed to earn those billions. In the relative safety of the US, Saverin was free to meet Zuckerberg at Harvard, a private school which nonetheless receives 18% of its operating budget from federal grants- almost as much as it does from student tuition.
Manjoo goes on to explain how, as much as libertarians might like to think of Saverin and Zuckerberg as prime examples of self-made entrepreneurs, they have always been standing on the shoulders of taxpayer-subsidized giants. The Internet is a direct descendant of ARPANET, the early large-scale computer network which was funded by the US Department of Defense. Today's Web owes its basic technologies and ideas to public funding at the American federal and state level, as well as Europe's CERN research group.Continued on the next page