Here’s my latest column.
I wrote this yesterday, after stewing about the affair over the weekend. Perhaps my anger is misplaced? Let me know what you think. The text of the column is below.
Also, this week I’m in Los Angeles for the All Things Digital 2012 conference, also known as D10. Will you be there? Look me up!
If there was any doubt that Wall Street is a sucker’s game designed to take money from stupid people and put it into the hands of bankers and powerful corporations, Facebook’s initial public offering should clear that up.
Of course, we can’t know why Facebook or its investors and bankers were selling as much stock as possible, at as high of a price as possible, to as many naive investors as possible. But the result is clear: Anyone who bought Facebook stock on the opening day got duped.
Now, from Facebook’s point of view, that just makes good financial sense. While a nice big “pop” in the stock price on its first day of trading makes for good headlines, it’s a sign that the company has mispriced its stock and left money on the table; in Facebook’s case, it maximized its return.
And if you’re buying an IPO stock on its first day of trading in hopes of a quick one-day profit, you’re presumably smart enough to know that you’re basically gambling with your money. So the onus is on you if it doesn’t pan out the first day — or has a terrible first week. Give up your dreams of a quick return and hold onto the stock; maybe it’ll go back into the 40s. Some day.
But what really irks me is the revelation that Morgan Stanley and Facebook may not have actually broken any SEC rules. It appears that it’s allowable for analysts to communicate different information verbally with select investors than they reveal in the publicly-filed documents. That’s a ridiculous situation that seems to run directly counter to the purpose of a public, and transparent, IPO.