Fact #1: Bankers work on behalf of their clients.
Fact #2: Bankers work on behalf of themselves.
Keeping the above in mind, why are we surprised that the Facebook IPO (NASDAQ: FB) was executed to the benefit of Facebook, the company, and the underwriting banks, rather than the retail investor?
Henry Blodget, CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider—who in his time put more lipstick on pigs than most of his peers, and is permanently barred by the SEC from working in the securities industry—is positively outraged by the bankers’ behavior. Blodget makes very valid points (article/video), but is he really permitted to be “shocked” by insiders giving themselves an advantage, legal or not?
Shouldn’t they? I mean, not across the board, but for unproven business models? LinkedIn, in comparison to Facebook, actually has a proven business model: it’s an HR solution.
By definition, the bankers did great. They got Facebook and themselves the most money possible. I agree, in the long-term Facebook should not be underperforming its IPO price—that would be very bad for Facebook (and, of course, investors). But in the short-term, Facebook got the most money for giving up the least.
I am not arguing that deceit is an honorable practice, but I’ll go with this cliché: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
What ought to happen is that more real due diligence is being done. Perhaps less investment, but not fewer investments. Yes, companies once more will have to prove that they can make money, not just aggregate content. Thank you, Facebook, for the lesson.
The lesson to marketers? Deliver value to your stakeholders, not just your shareholders. (I really need to make that an axiom.)