Eight years, 900 million users, and several Winklevoss lawsuits later, Facebook went public in the third largest IPO in history. Despite months of hype, it got off to a rocky start.
The social network raised more than $18 billion, putting the company's total market value at $104 billion. By comparison, Google raised $1.67 billion in its 2004 IPO, which valued the company at $26.4 billion.
But the stock's first trading day was anything but smooth. After an unexpected delay due to an overwhelming surge of orders, the stock finally started trading on the Nasdaq at around 11:35 a.m. ET, with the ticker symbol "FB." It jumped briefly to $43 a share, but then tumbled alarmingly back to its initial public offering price of $38.
The record will show that Facebook stock ended its first day of trading at $38.23, a gain of 23 cents above its IPO price. What it won't show is the unbelievable effort by its underwriters to hold the stock price above the $38 level for a huge part of the day.
Just take a look at the chart, posted by Josh Brown at The Reformed Broker blog. The stock price improbably held right at $38 for most of the entire final hour of trading, and it briefly touched $38 early in its first minutes of trading. Like a pilot at the controls of a jumbo jet that's lost three engines and its autopilot, the underwriters -- including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase -- wrestled and sweated to keep the stock at altitude.
That's not a great sign for the stock's future, according to research firm PrivCap, which believes it should have been priced lower. In a research note, PrivCap wrote:
The very presence of a supporting bid augurs poorly for Facebook stock, indicating the "pent up demand" was mostly wiped out whenFacebook increased the IPO size by 25% in the last 2 days,” said PrivCo CEO and Founder Sam Hamadeh from the NASDAQ marketsite earlier today.
Nonetheless, all those people who were supposed to get rich on the IPO? They are no less rich as a result of today's shaky action. The underwriters did their jobs for Mark Zuckerberg et al. in that respect.
-- Mark Gongloff