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TheStreet Open House

Mark Cuban Is Wrong: Facebook's Ebersman, Zuckerberg and Thiel Were Short-Sighted

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Andrew Ross Sorkin set off a firestorm in the tech blogosphere/echo chamber earlier this week with his New York Times' DealBook column asserting that Facebook (FB) CFO, David Ebersman, was most responsible for Facebook's debacle of an IPO three months ago.

Well, the Facebook apologists have got their backs up on that one.

This creative Tumblr post took Sorkin's words and edited them to portray how brilliant Ebersman was.

Many folks on Twitter (and at TheStreet) said Ebersman was "not solely" to blame.

Others reminded us of the technical glitches of Nasdaq and how that caused the whole stock to get off on the wrong foot with investors "which cannot be quantified."

Then, Mark Cuban weighed in via WSJ's Marketbeat blog.

To blame Ebersman, Cuban says, is "180 degrees wrong."

He goes on to say:

Have you ever been to an auction where the selling party told a buyer to reduce their price because they were worried that the item might not hold its value? Neither have I. If the CFO of Facebook came on SharkTank and told me that he was able to sell his shares to the public for $38 a share, but turned down the opportunity, I would crush him for being an idiot.
Facebook was able to raise about 10 BILLION DOLLARS in this IPO. The CFO's job is not to manage shareholder portfolios. His job is to help Facebook succeed. I don't know about you, but putting 10 BILLION DOLLARS in the bank in my opinion is one way to help them succeed.

While Ebersman clearly was supposed to maximize the amount of money to be raked in by Facebook in the offering, he's clearly tainted the stock.

So what, you say? Mark Zuckerberg's got $10 billion in the bank. That's true but when's the next time they are going to do a secondary offering? Not anytime soon.

And that's really the key point here: Do you want to maximize Facebook's long-term interests or its short-term ones?

Cuban thinks this is a one-time event of fund raising so don't leave any money on the table -- and from Sorkin's article, that appears to be his thinking as well.

In fact, LinkedIn (LNKD) seems to be used as an example of a failed IPO because it raised "only" $350 million in its IPO which promptly doubled as soon as it started trading.

That seems to mean that LinkedIn CFO, Steven Sordello, left $350 million on the table. Bad CFO, right? If he'd gone on "SharkTank," Mark Cuban would have berated him.

But what happened to LinkedIn six months after its IPO? It did a secondary offering at $71 a share, raising over $600 million more. In other words, they gave public market investors a nibble and let them make some money on the deal.

But six months later, the goodwill they'd built up with those investors let them come back to the market to raise twice what they did in the IPO.

If Facebook had taken the long view -- and I'm not talking six years here, but six months -- they could have priced at $20 and then likely gone back to the market a few months later at a higher price.

As it played out, Ebersman maximized the returns for Peter Thiel and Accel -- not for Facebook shareholders.

So, sure you can shovel the blame on to Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg and the bankers if you want. But ultimately, Ebersman was the one responsible for overseeing the IPO process.

If you want to care for your investors and make sure they stick with you over the long term, you have to let them win a little -- even if that means a little less scratch in your bank account for six months. The upshot is that you will be able to go back to the well over and over if you do your job and keep building your company -- which is what Zuckerberg and Sandberg are focused on.

So, sorry Mark Cuban and other Facebook apologists: David Ebersman blew it.

At the time of publication, Eric Jackson held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Eric Jackson is founder and president of Ironfire Capital and the general partner and investment manager of Ironfire Capital US Fund LP and Ironfire Capital International Fund, Ltd. You can follow Jackson on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ericjackson or @ericjackson

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