The conventional strategy for successful tech founders typically involves gradually reducing ownership in their company through sales to venture investors, eventually becoming a minority owner, and then selling more stock after the company goes public. However, Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and founder of Asana, has taken a different approach.
Moskovitz started Asana in 2008 with full ownership and took the company public through a direct listing in 2020, retaining about 36% ownership. However, he has since been actively acquiring more shares, significantly increasing his ownership. With recent purchases, his ownership now stands at over 51% of outstanding stock, totaling 111.4 million shares. Moskovitz also disclosed plans to buy up to 30 million more Class A shares in 2023.
In an interview, Moskovitz mentioned that there have been favorable buying opportunities in the market, and he has been capitalizing on them. Despite Asana’s stock rallying 66% this year, it is still significantly below its previous record high in late 2021.
Moskovitz’s motivation for increasing his ownership in Asana is not driven by a desire for control but rather by his philanthropic intentions. He and his wife, Cari Tuna, are committed to donating the majority of their fortune to charitable causes. They manage their funds through Good Ventures, which supports various philanthropic initiatives based on recommendations from Open Philanthropy.
One of Moskovitz’s primary concerns when it comes to philanthropy is the future of artificial intelligence (AI). Good Ventures has made significant donations in the area of AI safety and governance, including a $30 million contribution to OpenAI in 2017. Moskovitz acknowledges the potential risks associated with advanced AI and believes it is essential to address them proactively.
Despite his substantial wealth, Moskovitz considers his purchases of Asana shares to be a relatively normal portion of his net worth compared to other founders. He currently owns about $2.6 billion worth of Asana shares, while his Facebook stock holdings amount to $4.6 billion.
It is worth noting that Moskovitz has agreed not to acquire all outstanding shares or reach ownership of 90% of the common stock to comply with New York Stock Exchange regulations. However, he remains committed to supporting the integration of AI technologies into Asana’s workflows and sees great potential in leveraging AI for tasks such as optimizing automation workflows and facilitating decision-making processes.
Moskovitz’s deep involvement with AI extends beyond Asana. He has invested in AI startups like Anthropic and shares a board member, Adam D’Angelo, with OpenAI. He is aligned with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s vision and expressed admiration for OpenAI’s GPT-3 and GPT-4 language models. Moskovitz believes AI technology needs to undergo safety evaluations before new generations, such as GPT-5 and GPT-6, are released, which may require regulatory coordination.
Overall, Moskovitz’s increased ownership in Asana reflects his commitment to philanthropy, particularly in the field of AI, where he aims to support the safe and responsible development of the technology.