Zuckerberg Eyes $54 Million Payout Following Meta’s Stock Surge

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Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose firm took the big tech world by surprise earlier this week following its fourth quarter and full year 2023 earnings report, has been busy selling shares after the stock soared on the stock market. Meta’s latest fiscal quarter results saw the firm announce a surprise 50 cent dividend per share and report a 25% annual revenue growth for the quarter and 16% growth for the full year.

The strong financials led to the stock soaring by a stunning 19% following the earnings release, and Zuckerberg, it seems, was waiting for this opportunity as his filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reveal that the top Facebook boss sold $7.9 million worth of shares yesterday and planned to unload another $46 million during the same day.

Meta Soars As Investors Reward Dividend Announcement, Strong Revenue Growth

The turnaround in Meta’s fortunes on the stock market has been nothing but stunning after its shares tanked in 2022. Back then, Zuckerberg had decided to go ‘all in’ on investing in the metaverse, so much so that he changed his firm’s name to Meta from Facebook. However, a capital intensive approach to a technology with uncertain financial prospects did not impress Wall Street, particularly during 2022’s interest rate hike cycle. As a result, Zuckerberg dropped down several notches on the world’s list of the richest persons.

Since then, the market has markedly changed. The latest trend in the industry these days is artificial intelligence, and big tech’s fourth quarter earnings season saw analysts and investors zero in to see where the firms stood. Their shares responded as the results pooled in, with Google parent Alphabet losing out as it warned about high costs and Meta soaring as it announced a dividend and posted strong revenue growth.

After Meta’s earnings report, the firm’s shares soared by 15% on the market in after hours and went on to add another 4% in gains in the day after, i.e., yesterday. Now, Zuckerberg’s SEC filings show that the Meta executive sold $7.9 million worth of shares the day after his company’s earnings release, and planned to sell another $46 million worth of stock during the same day. They also show that the share sales are part of a “Rule 10b5-1 trading plan” that was adopted in July last year.

As opposed to most public shareholders who file a Form 4 to update their transactions, investors like Zuckerberg, who own preferred or other shares, have to file a Form 144 instead. This lists down future share sales, and the $7.9 million sale on Friday first surfaced in Form 144 filed the day before. Additionally, the second SEC filing, made yesterday, confirmed that Zuckerberg had sold the stock and added another block of shares worth $46 million to his planned sale. Investors filing a Form 144 are generally required to follow through with their commitments, and a filing is made with a broker when the order is placed. Zuckerberg’s broker, in this case, is Charles Schwab.

The Meta executive’s ownership structure of the firm is the envy of many, including Tesla’s largest shareholder, Elon Musk. While Zuckerberg does not own a majority stake in Meta’s stock, his shares are structured to allow him to retain majority voting control despite this. Musk, on the other hand, feels that his control over Tesla is too weak to enable him to comfortably work with the company for high growth industries such as artificial intelligence and robotics.

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