Is Wall Street Hustling Facebook?
Facebook certainly has a problem with generating loyalty on Wall Street. Its biggest acquisition to date--$1 billion for Instagram--was made privately between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his counterparts at Instagram. So no "advisory" fees for Wall Street.
Facebook won't be issuing bonds soon. It generates enough cash that it won't need a public-market capital infusion. And Facebook played tough with the IPO fees themselves. If you are a Wall Street firm, you are obviously incentivized to help out your better-paying customers by underpricing the Facebook IPO.
If I'm right about this, it could mean a substantial pop for Facebook following the IPO. But outside investors should be cautious--the initial pop is often followed by a flop. The favored clients make their profits by selling into the exuberance. You would have lost money on Pandora, Yelp or Groupon if you bought at the closing price on the day of the IPO and held it through yesterday. (To be fair, LinkedIn and Jive would have held up very well.)
On the other hand, Facebook has shown an ability to play tough with Wall Street. It pushed down the fees, it played firms against each other, it made them all but beg to play a role. So maybe they've played tough on pricing too.
In any case, we'll find out on IPO day whether Zuckerberg and his board were able to overcome this pattern of Wall Street hustling tech companies.
--Written by John Carney at CNBC