Dustin Moskovitz: The quiet guy who made a billion from software

Facebook founding member Dustin Moskovitz has been selling his stake in the social networking site. But for the 28-year-old, it's not the money that's important.

Mark Zuckerberg is said to hold his Facebook co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, in high esteem, once remarking that he'd "always be someone I turn to for advice". In recent weeks, however, he might be forgiven for muttering "et tu Dustin?"

"Bit by bit", says Venturebeat.com, Moskovitz has been "offloading his sizeable stake in the social network", completing 12 different trades in 150,000 share increments over a two-week period. Compared to the bombshell dropped on Zuckerberg by Peter Thiel the erstwhile Facebook champion who "dumped" most of his remaining stock in August for a $395.8m gain Moskovitz's "slow and steady" selling is small beer. But it has added to the jitters surrounding Facebook.

The sell off is all the more significant because Moskovitz Zuckerberg's former Harvard roommate, who left Facebook in 2008 is highly regarded in the Valley, says Businessinsider.com. Right now he's "kicking butt" with a new start-up, Asana: a corporate productivity tool that some suggest could replace email. Indeed, of all the members of the "Facebook mafia" (the group of ex-employees now building a new generation of social media tools), Moskovitz still only 28 is often cited as the one to watch.

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Although "a quiet guy", his contribution to the extraordinary rise of Facebook shouldn't be underestimated, says Fast Company. Born in Florida in 1984, "the same year the Apple Mac landed", he's actually eight days younger than Zuckerberg, making him the real holder of the title "the world's youngest self-made billionaire".

A self-taught programmer, he majored in economics at Harvard and wrote much of the code for the prototype, Thefacebook.com. He was among the few who dropped out of Harvard with Zuckerberg and moved to Palo Alto to form Facebook proper, becoming the company's first chief technology officer. Many of the infrastructural elements he built are "still in place today".

Moskovitz seems uninterested in the "flash" accoutrements of great wealth, says the Daily Mail. He blends into his San Francisco neighbourhood, "which brims with twentysomething hipster geeks". He's a big fan of yoga and meditation (Asana is named after a yoga position).

What sets him apart from the mass of his contemporaries, however, is his "absolute freedom" to pursue his "particular vision of how he wants to change the world". Worth $4bn, he's already signed the Bill and Melinda Gates Giving Pledge to sign away most of his money. His charitable foundation is run by his fiance Cari Tuna, whom he met on a blind date.

As Silicon Valley power couples go, Moskovitz and Tuna are right up there, says Gawker.com. But Moskovitz clearly finds the burden hard. As he told Forbes last year, "For most people wealth accrues slowly... I went from the dorm room to having a billion dollars." It isn't easy.

The winners and losers in the Facebook saga

The Facebook story is replete with losers as well as winners, says Meghan Keneally in the Daily Mail. Perhaps none more so than Joe Green, another roommate of Zuckerberg's who "decided to stay enrolled in Harvard instead of dropping out to form Facebook". It's estimated that decision has cost him upwards of $400m.

If Green is searching for a scapegoat, he can always blame his father. As he told Good Morning America last year, "my father, who's a professor, was not too happy with the prospect of me getting kicked out of school". He'd already got into trouble with the Harvard authorities over a previous college site developed with Zuckerberg, Facemash, which allowed users to judge the looks of people online.

Despite losing out on the mega-mega bucks, Green's small shareholding in Facebook was still enough to make him a multi-million-dollar profit at the firm's float. History doesn't relate if he's followed Moskovitz's lead in selling up. But despite their disparate fortunes, the two men have much in common. Moskovitz is drawn to "work relating to philanthropy", says Carol J Loomis on Fortune.com. Joe Green has followed a similar course. He now runs Causes, a charitable giving site that aims to unite potential donors with charities.

Ultimately, it may not be the scale of fortunes that differentiates all those Harvard dorm boys, but what they chose to do with their lives, says the Daily Mail. The lifestyle carved out by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin who gave up US citizenship for tax exile in Singapore stands in marked contrast to both Moskovitz and Green.

Worth some $2bn, he has become a "notorious" playboy in the city-state. Saverin's start-ups are rather different too. Eschewing all talk of "changing the world for the better", along the lines of Moskovitz, his most noteworthy contribution is a cosmetics company run by a former Miss Universe, Rachel Kum, whom he also mentors.