Twitter IPO: SEC, Media Ripping Off Investors

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission is screwing you and, for all intents and purposes, nobody gives a damn.

Let's break this down to illustrate the IPO inanity I attempted to explain, using Container Store's ( TCS) debut, before Twitter ( TWTR) even went public.

Twitter's offer price locked in at $26 per share. The stock opened and immediately traded between $45 and $46. The media couldn't help but tell you -- with feeling that smacks of a new flavor of irrational exuberance -- that a move from $26 to $45 means TWTR popped 73% in its NYSE debut.

Moments into trading that so-called 73% gain turned into more than 80% as TWTR rose above $47. It eventually, albeit briefly, topped $50 per share.

Just another IPO that showcases the wholesale shafting the SEC, alongside a more-than-compliant media, continues to deliver to a vast majority of investors. Those of you who were not in on the founding of Twitter, did not take a job at the social media outpost, or did not end up becoming a big banker, or outrageously wealthy investor.

I can no longer own individual stocks due to my editorial position with TheStreet, however, I'm still livid. Livid because we make stars out of Dick Costolo and Jack Dorsey. We sensationalize and gawk over their company's IPO, yet we ignore the injustice an asleep-at-the-wheel SEC willfully maintains.

Back in the day -- the good old days of 1999 to 2000-ish -- I had my E*TRADE ( EFTC) account. In this video, I explain how my experience trading the Internet bubble's high-fliers -- FDRY, IWOV, ATHM and Extreme Networks ( EXTR) -- went down. I don't remember the particulars (in disgust, I shredded the statements long ago), but all I know is, when my attempts to get shares at the offer were rejected, I chased these names at the open or shortly thereafter, timed it wrong and lost money more often than I made it.

Lesson learned, but nothing has changed.

The SEC rips you off here because they effectively bar you from participating -- even having a realistic chance at participating -- in the process that makes people such as Dorsey, Costolo and the big banks filthy rich over and over and over again. Where is it written that these guys deserve an inside track to a turnkey system that prints money and deposits it in their bank accounts? Sure they're founders, they're at the helm, but enough is enough. If getting completely shut out of the IPO process isn't a rip off, I don't know what is.

The media deserves as much, if not more, criticism. Most of the media provides you with vile disservice.

We saw so much cheerleading ahead of the Twitter IPO it was disgusting. The media spewed headlines of a 73% pop for TWTR with no context whatsoever. That 73% pop might as well have been 7,073% because very few investors are even able to sniff an opportunity to take part.

So, what are we left with? A stock that opens sky high, pops some more and regresses closer to the price it opened at (as of this writing coming up on 1:00 p.m., Thursday on the East Coast). Many investors who chased certainly bought too high and now face the decision of what to do.

Surely individual responsibility and decision making comes into play, but we're working within an IPO system the SEC shamefully stacks against most investors. To top it off, we have a media community that stokes emotion in such a way ( Twitter Pops 73% in Debut) that you really can't blame the average -- or even experienced -- investor for taking a shot.

It makes me angry. The situation, yes, but, more so, the fact that I am one of the few railing against it.

Here's the reality:

And here's the type of public sentiment that holds us back:

What to do?

I'm not sure, but, FWIW, here's what I had to say about the Twitter IPO before it went off Thursday morning with Jon Steinberg of Buzzfeed and Mike Isaac of All Things D on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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