Oh, Zuck: Facebook's bumpy start just got a little worse
May 23rd, 2012
11:55 AM ET

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

To say its been a rough ride for Facebook's IPO would be an understatement.

And as the social media giant edges toward the close of its first week of trading, questions are swirling about the company's valuation, its profitability and now allegations that full details of the stock's likely value were shared with only a select group of people.

Did some people get a heads-up Facebook's IPO wasn't what it seemed?

Regulators are now looking into the possibility that Facebook's Wall Street investment banks may have tipped off some clients that Facebook wasn't necessarily a great buy or worth the hype it was receiving, according to reports Wednesday from Reuters and several other news organizations.

“Facebook changed the numbers – they didn’t forecast their business right and they changed their numbers and told analysts,” a person at one of Facebook’s banks told Reuters.

Overheard on CNN.com 'I saw this one coming from a mile away'

The big question is: Did certain privileged customers receive information about the Facebook offering that you as an individual investor might not have?

Rick Ketchum, head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, an independent regulatory body, acknowledged in an article from Reuters that a Morgan Stanley analyst reduced his revenue projections for Facebook shortly before the offering and shared the information with institutional investors.

And now Facebook shareholders have filed a lawsuit against the social network, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a number of banks, alleging that crucial information was concealed ahead of Facebook's IPO. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday morning, charges the defendants with failing to disclose in the critical days leading up to Friday's initial public offering "a severe and pronounced reduction."

Facebook  defended themselves on Wednesday saying they "believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously."

The report, and now the lawsuit, raises questions about whether Morgan Stanley, one of the underwriter companies that handled Facebook's IPO, or other banks knowingly offered certain investors privileged information that should have been made public. Other underwriters targeted by the lawsuit include Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, a unit of Bank of America.

It is possible that Morgan Stanley may have signed off on a price that was too high or agreed to sell too many shares in the deal, CNNMoney.com reports. Then, Morgan Stanley analysts are alleged to have told certain people they had a negative assessment of the social network's offering.

"If true, the allegations are a matter of regulatory concern to FINRA and the [Securities and Exchange Commission]," Ketchum said in a statement via a spokeswoman.

The New York Times reported Morgan Stanley did more than just quietly share a negative outlook; they actually "held conference calls to update their banks' analysts on business."

"Analysts at Morgan Stanley and other firms soon started advising clients to dial back their expectations," the article says. "One prospective buyer was told that second-quarter revenue could be 5 percent lower than the bank’s earlier estimates."

Sallie Krawcheck, Bank of America's former head of wealth management, took to Twitter to share her outrage about the allegations.

[tweet https://twitter.com/SallieKrawcheck/status/205090084373008384%5D

A glitch leaves investors not knowing if they have Facebook stock

Facebook's debut on the market was hindered by early confusion when trading was delayed by two hours after what Nasdaq called a "technical error."

"People didn't know where their orders stood, and it became a big guessing game," one trader, who had put in an order to buy Facebook shares ahead of the opening bell, told CNNMoney.com. "Nasdaq couldn't handle it - they blew it."

The trader said he didn't receive a report of how many shares he bought and how much he paid for them until three hours after his order was executed. Typically, that report is transmitted instantaneously, he said.

Facebook IPO: What went wrong?

Others were left even further in the dark. A frustrated 11-year-old investor, who in many ways represents the most basic frustration for individual investors, told the New York Post that three days after the public debut, he had absolutely no idea if he even had gotten shares of the company. 

“They are holding my money hostage,” said Sam Lesser, who had put in a $10,000 Facebook order from money he made in a small business he created. "It’s really disappointing, because we could have made money on this."

To prevent a repeat of Facebook's botched opening, Nasdaq has changed its process to no longer accept order modifications once the final calculation has begun.

Stock disappointing many - unless you're a flipper

If you bought Facebook hoping it would be a steady earner in the early days, you were certainly out of luck.

While the Facebook IPO was one of the most highly anticipated IPOs in recent memory, setting a record for first-day trading volume, it's also been quite a disappointment so far.

The stock is still down about 15 and has yet to post a truly positive trading session. On Friday the stock had a minute gain, but other than that, it hasn't done much to impress early investors.

That is, of course, unless you're someone looking to trade minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour in order to turn a real quick profit.

"It's a day trader's paradise right now," Douglas DePietro, managing director for sales trading and trading execution at Evercore Partners, told CNNMoney.com. "There's high volatility and high volume."

soundoff (772 Responses)
  1. GK

    I listened to Warren Buffett. He said not to trust so I didn't. Looks like once more he's right.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sean

    Things just got real.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. PokingBears

    I thought there were laws to prevent this sort of thing?

    May 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Hope's Ghost

      when do laws affect wall street?

      May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tony Hopp

    The issue isn't investors crying over stock losses. The real issue is how "select" investors got inside information. It's the continued abuse of Main Street by Wall Street.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob Hope's Ghost

    does this mean no one is gonna help Mark on his farmville anymore? he needs more carrots for his sheep.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mike k.

    Wow that's petty. They're just a bunch of guys who had an idea and got lucky.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • UseYourSense

      @mike k – It's worse than that. This is a "bunch of kids" who stole a patent application idea from June 2003 and got wealthy... including the dorky twins... NOT ONE OF THESE CRETINS came up with the idea.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Johnny 5

    Dun, dun, duuunnnnnnn....

    Business as usual.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Justa

    Well, that was quick! Lol!

    May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Obamamnesty

    As an investor I love this! Obama touted FB and took donations from the left leaning owners. No shame Obamaaa rips Mitt for big money and BO is hitting up the Wall Street and Hollywood elites. But like the treacher in NC said! Obama can do it! No one else can! Love it! ABO

    May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scott

    The lesson here is not to take your company public unitl you havea proven revenue stream. But wait: if any of the movie, articles and other sources of info are accurate, ZUCK never wanted to sell out the expereince to advertising revenue. Guess that "sell out" is bringing about the demise of FB.
    The sooner FB crashes the better. Then people may finally realize a real life instead of one lived online. Of course that will be unitl the next online social fad comes along and the sheep flock to it

    May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    They get exactly what they deserve. The abuse that the investors were put thru deserve far more than what Zuckenbergs worth..I am seeking maximum compensation for the money I lost also where the stock should have went to & other damages. I was traumitized through this whole process. I was left in the dark. Mark Z. is the most responsible in this whole thing, because he knew what was going on. Like any CEO would have came out to protect his company. He did not. He should be removed from FB to prrotect his company & his investors

    May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Granger

    Zuckerman had a shady past about his "stealing," of Facebook, Facebook is intrusive and cannot be trusted...so why is it news that he lied to the world and catered to big investors? I'm sure Obama knew about it, and was on the inside; these two liars were made for one another.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kanagi

      You are typical republican idiot.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Zman1978

    Nobody cares about the stocks! Stock market is for the greedy capitalistics jerks. Its a game for the rich

    May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Mariscal

      Says Mr. $7.25 an hour.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jimmie

    What is the real VALUE of facebook? Facebook is nothing more that a website for teenage chit-chat and actually produces nothing. Of course there is the ADVERTISING that goes along for the ride !

    May 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • trish

      I completely agree with you! Just a place for people to vent publicly....glad I am off of it

      May 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ProperVillain

    More proof that Wall Street is full of a bunch of mobsters and crooks operating within the "law".

    May 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ

      And people continue to election politicians who support these peoples free will to continue the practice of ripping them off. Voters actually ask for this and when they get it, they complain. The GOP continue to tell the public they are for deregulating Wallsteet and people continue to support them regardless of being told they are for these people having the right to legally do these types of things. Makes no sense people....

      May 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
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