As the finger of blame for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s disappointing IPO performance swivels around the room and points at various parties, billionaire investor Mark Cuban comes out in support of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s beleaguered CFO, David Ebersman.
Ebersman has been pilloried by all for fixing a very high offering price of $38, and then raising the issue size by 25 percent, in a move that probably had far-reaching repercussions – the excess supply, coupled with insider selling, helped beat the stock down to $17.75 currently from its lofty $38 issue price. Andrew Ross Sorkin has been particularly hard on Ebersman, saying in the NYT that “if there is one single individual more responsible than any other for the staggering mispricing of Facebook’s I.P.O., it is Mr. Ebersman.” It may be noted that Facebook’s market cap has nosedived by almost $50 billion in the aftermath of the IPO. Ebersman is also castigated for not articulating any company strategy to lift the stock price.
Mark Cuban calls the blame game against Ebersman “180 degrees wrong” according to this article in MarketBeat.
According to Cuban, Ebersman did his job and that was to put $10 billion in the bank, and should not be blamed for arriving at a price and issue quantity that the traffic would bear. Cuban is very clear that Ebersman’s first priority lay with making the IPO, and thereby Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), succeed. He says bluntly: “The CFO’s job is not to manage shareholder portfolios.”
Cuban says that there are two ways of pricing an IPO – one that preserves shareholder value by issuing a smaller number of shares, which creates an artificial pop on listing, as in the case of Linkedin Corporation (NYSE:LNKD). The other is to issue the largest quantity feasible, so as the rake in as much cash as possible, and disregard completely the post-IPO performance of the stock, such as in Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). As mentioned above, Facebook has halved since its IPO in May, and it obviously took the second option.
But even if Ebersman chose to take the latter route, according to Cuban, the blame actually rests with the brokers and the investors themselves.
Cuban says that it is the primary responsibility of the brokers to ensure that investors understand the risks and value offered in the shares being applied for. The investors’ portfolio, including Facebook, is either to be managed by the investor himself, or his broker, not Ebersman.
Cuban says, “No question that there are a lot of brokers out there that did not do their jobs.”