Overheard on CNN.com: 'I saw this one coming a mile away,' reader says of Facebook
This thumb points upward at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, but many readers see things differently.
May 23rd, 2012
07:11 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'I saw this one coming a mile away,' reader says of Facebook

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

We've seen a lot of talk about the Facebook IPO's less-than-stellar debut. Some are surprised; some aren't. We decided to look back at the comments from our readers and see how views have changed or indeed whether they have changed. Here's some comments from before and after the IPO; looks like many are saying "I told you so."

BEFORE

Back at the end of January, we were seeing a lot of cynicism about the IPO. Much of it was centered around the idea that going public might affect the course of a business' mission. We also heard from a lot of readers who said they didn't like Facebook in general. To be fair, there were also plenty of folks who said they thought it was a good move for CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Co.

Facebook IPO's meaning: Zuckerberg faces reality

People at that time were talking about increased focus on profit after an IPO.

BossMoney: "Facebook is now 100% profit-driven ... expect it to turn into an advertising billboard and your personal info to be sold to commercialists as shareholders demand mega-profits from this ... Facebook and Zuckerberg are on the way out ..."

zeitsev: "This will be the end of Facebook. Just like all other companies that thought this was a good idea, a business-minded (not consumer-minded) Board of Directors will oust the CEO, and install another businessman who will ruin everything that Zuckerberg built. Like him or not, Zuckerberg has largely been consumer-oriented and won't allow ads to impede usability. That won't be the case when an MBA gets a hold of it."

Fr33Th1nk3r: "I miss the old, non-corporate capitalism. Where small business thrived, and big business didn't sell your privacy to the highest bidder."

Others were feeling cynical about Zuckerberg.

URKiddinMe: "Now he's going to have to answer to shareholders. I hope they beat him down to a pulp. Can't stand the guy or FB."

whatfor2name: "You cannot compare Zuckerberg to Gates and Jobs. The first one is manipulative and sick, the other two are creative and mature."

BanHammer: "Jealous much?"

This reader was more optimistic.

QuayyLuude: "No more bashing Facebook or Mr. Zuckerberg. The entire story is wonderful and everybody should be pounding each other's backs and buying beers. Mark, You GO, guy.! Good work and do it again."

tinwatchman: "So what's the point here? That Zuckerberg and Google have had to change in order to survive or grow? So what? Life is compromise."

Some said it makes sense.

Ackadamius: "Not sure that Zuckerberg succumbed to the 'natural' order of things. He is succumbing to SEC regulations that he must open his books with more than 500 investors. And if you must open you books you might as well get paid to do it. Also, Zuckerberg and his closest investors and directors will still control the lion's share of the company so he will still be able to largely do what he wants. He wants to emulate Steve Jobs. Jobs was famous for telling shareholders, at shareholder meetings (to their face) that he didn't care what they thought and he will run the company how he wants. I can see Zuckerberg doing the same thing. To me this is a "have your cake and eat it too" scenario. He gets paid out handsomely in one fell swoop and gets to retain close to dictator-like control of the most impressive social vehicle in the past 25 years."

dn74: "This is not new. Facebook is a business, not a charity. Companies exist to maximize value for their shareholders. When the shareholder base grows, you obviously need to consider weight their differing interests (some prefer short term profits, other long term profits). That enters into the calculus, yes, but there's nothing sinister about that. That is a good thing, not a bad thing. If you want to change the course of the business, buy some shares and vote your proxies."

Later on, just a few days before the IPO, a story about Facebook's status in the social media hierarchy got a few readers saying they believed Facebook had reached its peak already.

Will Facebook lose its edge after IPO?

This reader said they won't be "liking" Facebook.

cholidaystl: "Only investors care about the answer. From a personal standpoint, I truly hope so. Never has so much energy been wasted by adolescents trying to desperately establish an identity, at the expense of actually establishing one in real life."

Another said they don't trust the company's numbers.

AppleOrange: "If you're going to invest in a company I would pick one that actually produces something other than wasted time. How can anyone believe Facebook's numbers? Its all virtually based, and easily manipulated."

Some expressed tempered optimism.

inc0gnit0: "Doesn't matter if Facebook will eventually crash and burn. I'm going to pick up a few shares and put them away for some time. Look at the price of Amazon, Google, etc. now vs. first trading date. People said those companies won't go anywhere either. As long as you can buy low and sell high, who cares?"

This reader said the product doesn't match that of other companies.

Karaya: "If Facebook vanishes from the face of the Earth this very minute, it will bear absolutely no consequences whatsoever. Unlike Google or Apple or Oracle, the Facebook does not produce anything of value. So except for the IPO gamblers the article question is moot."

Another said they think the IPO offering was coming too late.

TroothBeTold: "Facebook broke the first rule of Wall st. Strike while the iron is hot. It may be a hot IPO and with all the institutional ownership will stay high for a while but I suspect once the suckers have run out of flyer money it will trade below the offering price and may find some normalized valuation but for now just kick the tires. As a business model it can certainly and easily go the way of Hot Pants."

For some, predictions of Facebook's death seemed a bit exaggerated.

ec7967: "I'm still waiting for any one of these brilliant, self-appointed, anti-Facebook financial and technical gurus to actually explain what is going to kill Facebook. Twitter? There's a fad for you - your whole life, in 150 characters or less ... Mobile? You still need a platform for the interaction. There are only two things that could kill Facebook: 1) People suddenly decide to buck the entire trend of human history, by regressing to a less-connected, less-interactive, less-social model of living. 2) A new social networking platform comes out that facebook can't compete with. Twitter isn't it, and Google+ has fallen rather flat. Facebook probably won't be around forever...but there's still no coherent explanation for what could off it."

Others were vehemently opposed.

BooDiggly: "Wouldn't touch this stock with a 10-foot pole. It's all show, no go ..."

Was Zuckerberg hoping to make a run for it?

ss1980: "No, it's a classic exit strategy, so Zuckerberg is expected to move on to something else after FB."

Was something awry?

dante6: Interesting how the vultures circle before eating the carcus - I see them swarming."

Should we listen to the commenters?

davidp44022: "The sad thing is that people who really shouldn't be buying the stock will never read these comments and they'll rush out to get the stock and over pay for it. And the only people who make big money off this will be the early investors and employees of FB because they'll sell at a profit real quick and take the money and run."

Al2002: "I see a lot of commentary and advice concerning what I do for a living on these boards and I laugh really hard all the time. ... I wouldn't make any financial decisions based on CNN user comments."

Does Facebook have edge? We saw some skepticism about the stock market.

skeptica: "What edge? This is a typical con game. They dress it up to look as good as they can, and then sell it. After you got it, you found out it was all stuffed with trash, but it's all too late. The stock market is a way for businesses to 'print money' the way they see fit."

AFTER

Now that the IPO is done, a lot of readers are saying they expected the current situation.

Oh, Zuck: Facebook's bumpy start just got a lot worse

One reader said Farmville was all the indication they needed.

Grumpster: "I saw this one coming a mile away and didn't buy one share. I don't need shares of virtual farm animals."

Another felt bad for investors.

George: "Here's the unfortunate aspect of ALL of this: those people who bought the stock out of a genuine desire to own a piece of a digital success story will be left with a loss. These class action lawsuits will place pressure on Facebook's earnings and negatively impact their financials. I fear that as the dust settles on this we may see future earnings 'adjusted' 'due to accounting changes.' If Groupon's IPO and its aftermath is any indication, it's going to be a bumpy ride for investors and employee shareholders."

Was there insider information involved? This reader said they thought something went wrong.

Southern Guy: "The stock market is like Vegas -– don't gamble more than you can afford to lose. That being said, Morgan Stanley should lose millions and millions and millions of dollars if they did warn some investors and not others. And if Facebook gave false information, they should be smacked, HARD. I'm neither a Zuckerberg hater nor lover – I wouldn't want his life, with or without money. But if he didn't do anything wrong, then I hope he wins."

Some said they don't see anything shocking going on here.

Dave V: "Lets see, Where have I heard the names Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. Oh yeah, I remember, during the financial meltdown ... all are criminal organizations. Is it any surprise that a select few know the real deal? Only a select few have known the real deal for years."

But another commenter compared the hype surrounding the IPO to other kinds of strong emotions.

Newt Romney: "Behavioral economics is the new 'psychology of denial.' Yes, it’s like falling in love. You can’t hear, can’t see the warning signs. 'Til after. After months of hype building up to this IPO, you’re convinced Facebook is your soul mate, that not getting shares in that IPO would leave you devastated, rejected by your true love. And nothing anyone says about the risks will change your mind. That’s the 'psychology of denial.' There are four main reasons for this pervasive psychology of denial among Main Street’s 95 million investors: First, investors hate admitting we’re irrational and ill-informed, so they cling to the fiction they’re rational. Second, optimism is the investor’s worst nightmare, but Americans still act optimistic no matter the odds. Third, Wall Street loves investors who are irrational, uninformed and optimistic; they’re easy to manipulate. Fourth, American investors are by nature trusting folks who want to believe Wall Street’s telling the truth, even though most of the time that’s not the case. The Facebook mystique is so powerful today that in our minds Facebook truly is too big to fail. Facebook will never fail. Facebook will just keep growing indefinitely at rates that would remind us of the old dot-com mindset of 1999. Hail, Facebook —- you are too big to fail, and nothing will change our minds."

Readers discussed whether Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin had the right idea by renouncing his citizenship.

HIDE BEHIND: "I'm all for the Facebook guy who left states to save on his tax bill. Hope he gets to enjoy it by spending it whatever way he wishes. He made a bundle not off of those who enjoyed the service, many who by the way skip taxes on their incomes in every way they can, but instead he made it by the greed of those trying to profit off his work."

Readers differed on whether this outcome is unusual.

IPO: What went wrong?

This person said we have an imperfect system.

olderadult: "OK here's what happened. The Facebook offering was handled like all IPOs - been in the market 40 years - I know this is nothing different. The underwriters make money, the owners make money and the guys who bought the IPO are suckers - it's their destiny and they shouldn't be suing anybody. They should just keep quiet and go somewhere and hide - don't make too much noise and hope no one notices how embarrassing it is to be so easily robbed by Wall Street. The guys on Wall Street aren't doing anything criminal though once again they are making new inroads into the public - a public who might not be so embarrassed or so ashamed of how stupid they are and are now hiring lawyers. Maybe this time is different. At least Wall Street didn't spread any really big LIES this time like they did in the dotcom bubble. Or most recently in the Mortgage rip off. They didn't know anything. They were as surprised as the rest of us at how it turned out. Congress. Congress is complicit. The only hands they wish to hold are the moneyed hands of those on Wall Street. By the way, is there anything more Wall Street needs? A few Congressmen would like to know. As Kay Baily Hutchison from Texas says, in times where people are being screwed as we were during the Bush administration so many times, just stop whining! It's the only system we have!"

Is regulation the answer?

secretagent: "What do you mean, 'what the #(@% happened?' Activity like this is consistently repeated because republicans blocked legislation designed for oversight to prevent it. It's how American taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the Wall Street derivatives scandal. You put republicans back in the White House and you'll get nothing but more of the same and continue to be handed the bill when they're caught."

Or are we just too optimistic?

visibleholstein: "As the article says as its outset, it was a 'breathlessly hyped IPO.' There's your problem. That's what happened. It wasn't a stock sale. It wasn't an 'investment event.' It was breathlessly hyped. Remember ... if something seems too good to be true, it probably is."

thx1111: "I'm suspicious of the market in general. Facebook was probably rigged from before day one ..."

What about your predictions? What went wrong? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Business • Facebook • Finance • Overheard on CNN.com • Social media • Technology
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    We'll call the new social networking program Fuzzbook. And we'll encourage clients to keep all thier info and artworks to themselves, just because, we don't want them. We won't tell anybody that thier intellectual property becomes ours, when they sign up, just because we are so talented, we really don't need it. But if you want to "share" anything, do it with anyone and everyone except us. Join now at the low low cost of $14.99/year.
    Don't worry....because when someone just answered 22 questions about you, you will recieve a hyperlink to get the answers immediatley (no waiting), thier phone number and thier valid email address. You be the boss of your vewry own Fuzzbook page.
    Paypunk-Wiza-Masturcard Welcome

    May 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ©bobcat (in a hat)©

      Just one question. When is the IPO ? Just want to know, so I won't buy into it like I didn't with Facebook.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    Yea ok like TORI would ever post anything like that!

    May 24, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • ©bobcat (in a hat)©

      Troll doesn't give up does it ?

      May 24, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Stella

    No matter how popular FB is or becomes you can only fit so many ads on one page and the number of readers of that page only goes so far. It reminds me of the early days of the internet when everyone was so excited about what it could do but never knew how to make it earn money. Net users want FREE stuff, period. Unless FB finds a new route to profits it's as profitable as it's going to be right now. Even worse, the only new revenue stream they could have on mobil devices looks to be locked up by its competitors. Valuable business lesson – popular ideas that can't grow are great for users, not for investors.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Prof Van Nostros

    Facebook is a fad. Something will come along and replace it entirely. Remember AOL chatrooms, MySpace, Friendster??? What a coincidence MZ gets married day after–must be a strong prenup. Hope he has a nice honeymoon. -PVN

    May 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. athiest

    i thought they valued themselves way too high. we're seeing losses now, if they had valued themselves reasonably, they'd have seen growth instead.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Acceler8

    All this banter reminds me of a few things. In this world, there is too much information available (negative and positive), on pretty much anything & anyone. FB was overhyped by the media regarding their IPO, and then prior to the date of the IPO, poo pooed by that same media with some folks actually dictating to the public not to buy FB on the IPO date. Too many shares were made available for purchase, where in the past only the proverbial "select few" were able to purchase any IPO shares at all. Then U have NASDAQ, which got slammed with so many buys for FB, that their servers crashed. This too is a 1st because never in recorded history, could 1 individual investor trader (times thousands), through their investment house, or solely, conduct all trades online. Lastly, if one was able to see the Social Network and understand it (you have to be smart), then I would opine that FB was hit with what I call the Edwardo Savran effect. Yeah, FB is "cool" (as per Zuckerberg's quote) but "does it make money?" These thoughts from the movie still resonate today when I think about FB's falling share price. Hmm. to be continued......

    May 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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