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Barbara, not Barbie's Journal: The real consequences of the Facebook IPO flop. 13 13

Facebook's IPO was a flop - the only reason the shares didn't end the day on a negative was that the underwriters bought millions of them at the floor price, to support the stock.

Even Groupon, which is now trading at less than a 3rd of its' first-day high, closed over 30% higher than it opened.

So now the underwriters are sitting on millions of shares of FB at $38 apiece. In other words, instead of taking in $171 million in fees, they traded back those fees (and then some) for FB paper that nobody else was willing to buy at $38 a share by days end.

Ignoring the question of the underlying value, which is much less than the IPO valuation (but that's another story), how much is FB worth to someone playing the market? Zynga has been used as a proxy for FB for a while - if you couldn't buy FB stock, at least you could buy their major partner, Zynga.

Trading in Zynga was halted - twice - because of 10% price declines in the stock in a 5-minute period. In other words, Zynga would probably have gone still lower if trading hadn't been halted. Zynga ended the day down "only" 13.42%.

Since the only thing that kept FB shares from going through the issue price floor was massive price support by the underwriters, Zynga continues to be a valid proxy for what Facebook stock would be performing if it weren't for the underwriters intervention.

What does this mean to the underwriters? Realistically, not only did they not make any net income from FB, but the shares they bought back at $38 will be a hard sell at $31 over the next few weeks.

Their only real option is to slowly sell off the shares, a little at a time, in competition with the other half-billion shares, many of which were bought in anticipation of a quick profit on a first-day market "pop" that was over almost as soon as it began.

There's also a limited window of opportunity. 6 months from now, all those Facebook employees who can't sell their shares because of the 6-month lock-in will also be wanting to cash out at least some of their $$$, so that leaves 6 months to unload, while many of the people who bought half a billion shares also look to unload.

None of this takes into account the FB employees who took out loans against their stock grants. This secondary market just got risk-ugly.

So, who benefits? Microsoft, Apple, and Google.

Microsoft, because Facebook is now just another stock, and one that doesn't even pay dividends, so competition with Facebook for employees just got easier. Bing will also pick up some advertisers who are re-examining their committment to FB in light of the triple whammy of GM pulling out, the $15 billion lawsuit, and the FB IPO flop showing that investors don't have that much confidence in future FB growth being anything like the past.

Apple, because people will continue to buy iPads, and iPad users tend to use Facebook less (eventually just responding to birthday reminders and such, at least from what I've seen). Anything that makes FB look like yesterdays news makes Apple's ecosystem look more attractive.

Google, because not only are they now, like Microsoft, going to have an easier time competing for talent, but also because of the dark shadow (think "negative halo effect") the FB IPO dud will have on Facebooks credibility with advertisers, just a few days after GM pulled out of paid FB advertising because it's not worth it and the rumours of other big-name advertisers who are also ready to pull the plug. That money will go to Google, and to some extent, to Bing.

The big loser, of course, is nowhere to be seen. It's anyone on whom Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs dump the overpriced FB paper they're now holding.

On another note, it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, the underwriting banks do with their new positions as significant shareholders of Facebook. They could make Zuckerbergs' life "interesting."

Plus there's the impact it will have on the economy just from reduced expectations all around, and the increased reluctance to invest seed money in other tech ventures.

Oh, and let's not forget the impact on the whole "social media" bubble. That hissing sound you hear? It's the air coming out. FB looks a lot more vulnerable than it did just 24 hours ago.

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The real consequences of the Facebook IPO flop.

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  • I wonder how FB would have done if they'd IPO'ed the Google way--Dutch auction style--which, for Google, was quite possibly the smartest thing they ever did, because it put so much of the first day pop into their pockets and not those of the big institutions.

    • In a sense, Facebook managed to put *all* the money from the underwriters fees back into their own pocket, since the underwriters are sitting on millions of shares that they had to buy back at the $38 price. However, this is *not* a good thing for Facebook, because now these same underwriters are going to need to get rid of that stock at a profit, or at least not at a loss.

      So, Facebook is going to come under a lot of pressure from them to make their business generate Google-sized profits, asap. In other

  • by tqft (619476)

    As I said elsewhere caring about fartbook requires me to move to #giveafuckistan

    Canadian politics: http://digitatia.blogspot.com/2012/05/on-blogging-my-social-strategy.html [blogspot.com]
    This came thru one of my twitter lists. Is he crazy (almost said loon but of course he is), serious, likely to get anywhere?

    • I admit my bias - failbook is a mirage, like all "social media".

      As of that blog, well, the last federal election in Kanuckistan, the "journalists", instead of getting out into the street and talking to people, did it the lazy way - following twatter and fartbook, which were basically being spammed by people on all sides.

      So they missed the big stories - that the NDP was going to decimate the Liberals and that the BQ was going to lose so many seats that they would no longer have official party status in the

      • by tqft (619476)

        It's going to suck for the rest of Canada if/when the Feds decide that we won't allow Quebec to default. Some good could of it, come in and sack the lot, but I doubt it.

        I don't think the USA wants a failed state on it's doorstep. And will your feds do what Washington wants?

        • If Quebec were to leave or be booted out, it certainly can default - Newfoundland almost did before it entered confederation in 1949 and Canada agreed to take on most of the debt.

          After all, Quebec bonds are guaranteed by Quebec, not Canada. It's the same as the debate over individual US states defaulting. The feds aren't obliged to make good on the debt. It happened in the 1840s http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704835504576060193029215716.html [wsj.com]

          Of course, the real question is, even if Quebec

          • by tqft (619476)

            "The feds aren't obliged to make good on the debt"
            Who is holding Q's debt? Canadian banks? Might be cheaper to pay than bail them out. If it is US banks holding it, expect some strong arming.

            • The problem with any "strong arming" is that it would be the same as if, say, Illinois went bankrupt (now estimated at ~20% over the next 5 years). The Feds aren't responsible for bonds issued by the state of Illinois.

              • by tqft (619476)

                Sorry maybe my point wasn't clear.

                If the US of Goldman Sachs & JPMorgan are heavily exposed to Quebec - which bank has a large exposure to CDS - you don't think Washington will all Canada and ask for help?

                "if, say, Illinois went bankrupt"
                From a previous life, I am aware of the sensitivity of these issues, wherein the organisation I was working for (The Autralian federal Treasury) refused to have a person present at a loan agreement signing for a state, incase it implied even a hint of support for the lo

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          I don't think the USA wants a failed state on it's doorstep.

          Wait, what? [wikipedia.org] I think you mean another failed state.

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