Today is Facebook Day, the day of the much awaited Facebook IPO. It’s the day we usher in hundreds (if not thousands) of new millionaires and even a couple of billionaires. In fact, I’m almost surprised the Google doodle wasn’t a takeoff of the Facebook logo … well, almost.
Facebook’s stock went public this morning at $38 a share and at this time, 11:43 MST, it’s at about $41. It’s not a huge bump from the opening, but still a net gain of 8% in less than a day. Not bad, not bad at all! But what difference does it really matter. I’m sure nobody that’ll read this post will have been able to buy any Facebook stock today and take advantage of the initial bump. In fact, I rather doubt few readers will even know anyone who got in today, or could have if they chose to.
And that’s a problem!
First, I want to clarify I’m not a Facebook hater. On the contrary, I like it quite a bit more than I used to. I’m not big on the “bells and whistles” and the games, and some of the other so-called functionality. But I’ve met a lot of really cool people who have a wonderful things to say. And that’s a good thing.
Now if there was ever a company that could be called the “people’s company,” it would be Facebook. No disrespect to Twitter, and I’m a huge Twitter fanboy, but just by the numbers Facebook is, well Facebook. Everyone is on it, and along with Twitter, it has the power to facilitate the overthrow of decades old regimes. One needs to only look as far back last year and the Arab Spring.
So let me ask you, why does a company that truly represents the 99%, choose to only spread its wealth with the 1% in their ivory towers of Wall Street. I’m willing to bet a good portion of these privileged 1% don’t even have Facebook accounts, at least not active ones. Members of the Occupy Movement must be churning as they log into their Facebook accounts knowing this. Last week Zuckerberg threw caution to the wind by wearing a “hoodie” during his roadshow. Why didn’t he just finish the job?
But this is the way IPOs are handled. The big Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs and their partners in crime (literally) play the paperwork dance and in return – their “big dog” clients are thrown a bone (minus a hefty commission of course). It’s always been this way, and it appears it’ll be like this in the foreseeable future. But aside from outright cronyism … why? Why should there be a net wealth threshold on whether you can make a few dollars in a supposedly transparent, equal market system? Beat’s me?
Imagine if Facebook decided to conduct the IPO themselves. Only Facebook members were eligible to purchase stock on the first day, and only in limited amounts. It might cost a few extra dollars to put it together … but look at the statement they would make. Facebook would elevate itself to “Godlike” status. They would be the company that embodied the “anti-Wall Street” sentiment. They could be in the middle of the rallying call for true financial reform and accountability. And the timing is so perfect. Never will there be a better opportunity for a such an appropriate company to “take a stand.”
“But no … just an opportunity missed.”
I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg
UPDATE: Well, when all was said and done ~ Facebook closed up twenty-three cents. Nothing to write home about, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t … “miss a golden opportunity!”