Facebook — Not a Disaster, Just a Tale of Old-Fashioned Greed
First off, there is Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and its controlling force. Ever since he took Facebook outside of Harvard, his story has been an amazing success. He became one of the wealthiest twenty-somethings on the planet by transforming the way people use social media.
His problem, however, was that the lion's share of the billions he created in personal wealth was tied up in the company. Zuckerberg's motivation for the IPO was to create liquidity and take some money off the table. Selling shares to the public gives him a lot of cash and allows him to reduce the concentration of investment risk associated with his brainchild.
Adding value to the economy or making future Facebook shareholders happy did not drive the Facebook syndicate. The main driving force for them was to land the elusive blockbuster deal in a dried-up new issues environment and bring in millions in fees that could be generously shared with a few lucky investment bankers in the form of outsized bonuses. It really is that simple.
Again, there would be nothing intrinsically wrong with any of this, had the syndicate not enabled the IPO to be priced at an unsustainable level. Arguably, if the investment bankers had done their job properly, they would have recognized that the issuing price was beyond reason and advised Facebook to go public at a more modest valuation.