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Facebook’s CFO Could Be First Fired For Initial Public Offering Fiasco

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For many people looking to point fingers at someone for the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s I.P.O. debacle, they may want to include chief financial officer, David Ebersman.

Facebook's CFO Could Be First Fired For Initial Public Offering Fiasco

In a New York Times article by Andrew Ross Sorkin, he writes that the boyish, 41-year-old (a quick glance at his photo makes you think of Mark Zuckerberg) was the one at the helm for the IPO.

Ebersman had signed off on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s rising offering price, which ultimately hit $38, after initial considerations in the $29 to $34 per share range.

But that’s just the beginning. He was also the one, according to Sorkin, to help saturate the market with 25 percent additional shares for the offering in the last few days before it went public.

Since that fateful day on May 18, as CFO and by proxy, the investors’ contact, he hasn’t exactly communicated what the company plans to do to lift the stock price, which is a much-needed thing, considering its current state.

On Friday, the stock reached an all-time low with its $18.06 close. Since its three-plus month IPO, the company’s market value has plummeted more than $50 billion. As a point of comparison, Sorkin notes it represents a greater market value loss than Lehman Brothers incurred in the year before its bankruptcy filing.

In addition to concerning investors with its declining stock price, there are also worries regarding the company’s ability to keep and recruit engineers.

There’s also the potential for the stock to further decline, once employees begin selling stock this fall.

So if Ebersman is the “bad guy”, what is Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) going to do about it? Recently CEO Mark Zuckerberg supposedly joked after the IPO, “So, you’ve heard we’re firing David?

All the blame can’t rest on Ebersman. Some of it should also go to the bankers who may have given him bad advice, including the $38 per share IPO price. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) stood by the $38 price; JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) wanted a higher price, and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) looked at a lower one. But eventually they supported Ebersman’s final price decision, reported Sorkin.

But selecting an I.P.O. isn’t an exact science, as there’s so many factors, including investors and their demand for shares in the I.P.O.

For Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), the demand and expectations for the I.P.O. were extremely high, also driving up the share price.

Also, just to add in another factor to this tortured story, is LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE:LNKD)’s I.P.O.

With its shares rising 110 percent on its first trading day, as noted by Sorkin, it may have shown the company mispriced shares but made investors happy. Ebersman was said to desire the same thing: give investors some upside. Instead this hurt the stock, more than he probably ever imagined.

Fortunately for LinkedIn investors, their story so far has a happier ending.

At the end of the day, Ebersman isn’t a dummy and the botched I.P.O. should not be held against either his ability or experience.

With Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) seeing its three-month mark for the I.P.O., it’s a crucial time. According to Richard Peterson of Capital IQ, via the New York Times, 67 percent of technology companies whose shares were behind their I.P.O. price after 90 days remained laggards after a year.

And until that changes, look for Ebersman to remain in the hot seat.

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Sheeraz Raza

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