Facebook Not Being Transparent? The Irony!
It has been interesting to watch the Facebook IPO unfold. When the stock hit the Nasdaq trading floors last Friday, I was in Tokyo for a friend’s wedding. I didn’t really feel the effects of the IPO madness until I came back to the office on Monday, sorted through emails and watched the stock drop over 15% from its IPO price over the past week.
I’ve had more than a passing interest in the Facebook IPO because I interviewed with the company during the summer of 2008 for a position to manage the Japanese content of the site (then, Facebook had very little traction in Japan). I didn’t make it past the phone interview, but all of the IPO talk made me wonder if I had gotten the job, would I have become a millionaire on Friday? Probably. Now I work in tech PR, and because of my industry and personal interests in the IPO, I find it extremely ironic that the company built on the ideal of transparency is not being transparent.
With each new day, a new Facebook headline has emerged, adding more complex and seemingly deeper wrinkles into the fold. Here are the main trends to watch in the coming weeks:
- The Zuck: Mark Zuckerberg’s still the CEO and majority shareholder of Facebook. You would think that he would be more vocal about the IPO debacle, especially since the company was founded on the core value of transparency. Why can’t he just figure out what happened and tell the public? Now that Facebook is a publicly traded company, the poster boy for Web 2.0 probably cannot act on his own accord without the consultation of legal counsel. Ironic? It will be interesting to see what public stance Facebook and Zuckerberg make in the wake of its <insert word(s) with negative connotation here> IPO and allegations that company brass colluded with the top financial institutions regarding the valuation.
- Financial Institutions: Just when it seemed like America regained trust in the top financial institutions, namely investment banks, they go and do something like this. Well, investors have been quick to act, filing lawsuits against all of the big boys. All I can say is I’m glad I don’t work in financial PR! The silver lining of the IPO is that it really amplified the already flawed process. The SEC needs to reevaluate and fix the existing IPO protocols, and banks need to be fined and reprimanded heavily for this obvious example of insider trading. The latter probably won’t happen, but who knows.
- Social media community: I’m talking about the luminaries within this space who have largely been quiet – WHY? For a group of people who like to pontificate via Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, etc. on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, etc., they really haven’t said much. Does the Facebook flop mean that social media is a sham? No. I think everyone, including mainstream America, has seen and understands the value of social media, which is why Facebook was the most anticipated IPO in history. It’s very surprising to see the lack of opinion from this influential group. It will be interesting to see who steps up to the plate and takes a swing, and whether or not their words have credence.
- Startups looking to go IPO: This just in from BlombergBusinessweek – Facebook’s IPO Flop Is Decade’s Worst. A lot of startups were trying to beat the Facebook IPO since it would be the peak of investor interest in the space. Well, for different reasons, companies now have to fight an uphill battle when struggling with the decision to go public. It will be interesting to see how many tech companies go public in Facebook’s wake (either definition of the term works here), and how successful they will be compared to the first-movers like LinkedIn.
And for those who read this post looking for financial advice, buy at $29.