The tension in the room among producers was palpable as the IPO was delayed for half an hour.
Then, suddenly, it opened. The stock quickly jumped to almost $45. There were whoops and clapping at CNBC. People were excited.
However, within 10 minutes, something strange happened. The stock started to fall. It was one long, continuous slide back down to $38, where the underwriters defended it for the rest of the day.That day, on business TV, the Facebook blame game started. Whose fault was it? I couldn't have imagined that outcome a few short hours before. I woke up around 6 a.m. that Friday. When I turned on "Squawk Box," there was a sense of excitement similar to the Superbowl for business media. Later that day, people focused on Nasdaq (NDAQ) and its technical problems. Next, people started pointing fingers at Morgan Stanley (MS) for retaining too much control over the offering. Yet, Morgan Stanley was the lead bank behind the most successful social media in the last two years: LinkedIn (LNKD). In contrast to Facebook, which sold 421 million shares in the IPO, LinkedIn sold 7 million shares. Did Michael Grimes give bad advice to Facebook and good advice to LinkedIn? Unlikely. If Morgan Stanley wasn't the problem, who was? Facebook management, which is to say, Mark Zuckerberg? Facebook pushed to increase the shares sold by 25% in the days leading up to the IPO. Facebook insiders chose to sell 57% of the shares sold in Friday's IPO, compared to Google (GOOG) insiders selling 28% of the offering in 2004. It was also reported, last Thursday, by the Wall Street Journal, that Facebook management had sought to raise the IPO offer price but was rebuffed by large institutional investors who argued it would be too high. You add it all together and this was an out-of-touch management team who thought it knew more than its bankers on how hot the deal was and at where the market could absorb it.
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