After months of media hype we sobered up rather quickly. The Facebook IPO revealed some surprising lessons learned about the US stock market system.
- We learned that the NASDAQ, a trading platform that is in business since 1971 and that supposedly has more trading volume than any other electronic stock exchange in the world, can be overwhelmed. And it was.
- We learned that a social media company is in the end not that social. Facebook optimized their short-term gains. They leveraged the hype maximizing both the share price as well as the number of shares sold in the market place. They got a premium for their IPO shares. They also traded their short term gains for a publicity disaster.
- We also learned that apparently after ten years of Sarbanes-Oxley there is still room for clubby information exchanges among the few true insiders. In the aftermath of the Facebook IPO Morgan Stanley (MS), Goldman Sachs Group (GS) and J.P. Morgan Chase along with other underwriters and Facebook were sued by investors who claimed they were misled in the purchase of the social network firm’s stock. The courts will have to decide about the appropriateness of any pre-IPO disclosures.
Now the JOBS Act is supposedly making it easier for companies to raise money and to file for an IPO. We are officially in the Grace Period after President Obama signed the law on April 5, 2012. Lawmakers and regulators alike will have to deal with the fall-out from the Facebook IPO. While innovators and entrepreneurs want less bureaucratic hurdles in their business pursuits, nobody has an interest in an ill-defined process that creates mistrust, public uproar and law-suits.