Grasso: Facebook IPO Was a Massive Failure

Tuesday, 11 Sep 2012 10:21 AM

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The Facebook initial public offering was a total failure, said Richard Grasso, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Facebook went public in May at $38 per share.

Today, the company’s stock is trading just below $19 a share, well below the initial price on concerns that despite having 900 million users, Facebook will find monetizing that base to be difficult.

Editor's Note: This Wasn’t an Accident — Experts Testify on Financial Meltdown

Revenue growth has been slowing, and investors worry if the company can drum up advertising income on mobile devices.

Many say the company set the price too high prior to going public, adding the company and investment banks overhyped the offering.

“As a public investor, it’s a massive failure. As the broader public looks at the capital markets and investing in this country, it’s a huge failure,” Grasso told CNBC.

“The only declaration of success is that the company raised $10 billion, but at what cost? The brand is broken, the credibility of this company is going to be in question for a long, long time.”

Other high-profile investors criticized the offering as well, including noted investor and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, who blamed the Securities and Exchange Commission for not stepping in and taking steps to cool the hype.

“This was the most egregious example of preconditioning the market I have ever seen,” Langone also told CNBC.

“Here is where the SEC should have stepped in and said ‘we’re not going to let you do this now, we want the market to cool off.’ That would have been very, very draconian, but you want to know the truth? It was worthy of it.”

Other market observers point out that despite the bad press surrounding Facebook’s share prices, the broader tech sector is performing well, with shares in Apple, Google and many others shooting up.

“Nothing has fundamentally changed about the opportunities that are possible,” said Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, an online data-storage company based in Los Altos, Calif., according to The Associated Press.

“The challenge of the public markets is that it has the ability to create a lot of these near-term distractions if you start paying attention to the day-to-day stock price changes,” Levie added.

“A lot of those day-to-day changes have no bearing or relevance on the ultimate opportunity for your business.”

Editor's Note: This Wasn’t an Accident — Experts Testify on Financial Meltdown

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