Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of facebook, Harvard dropout, and now, Priscilla Chan’s husband, is known for schlepping around Palo Alto, CA (where facebook is based) in jeans and a t-shirt. Everyone knows Mark likes to keep it casual. But considering that the lawyers are now chomping at the bit to haul him, and pretty much anyone who had anything to do with his company’s initial public offering (IPO) into court pretty soon, he may want to think about pulling some of his better suits out of the closet.
There were signs that the recent facebook IPO wasn’t going to go as smoothly as Zuckerberg and his backers had hoped. Some employees of the company had begun to sell their shares before the official public offering. For years facebook compensated employees using unconventional stock units rather than customary stock options in order to prolong the inevitability of going public. Thus, the company already had a complicated compensation scheme and restless employees before one share of stock was moved on the exchange.
The Nasdaq stock exchange began trading facebook shares later than promised due to a ‘technical error‘.
Once shares finally began to trade, it became obvious that the initial offering price of $38 for the stock may have been a bit too optimistic, and Morgan Stanley, the company underwriting the facebook IPO, began to prop up the price of the stock by purchasing shares. Morgan Stanley couldn’t hold up the price forever; by the following Monday the price of stock had fallen 16%.
Now the lawyers have been called in by those who feel jilted by Morgan Stanley, facebook, and Zuckerberg.
The law firm that won a $7bn settlement for Enron’s shareholders is pursuing Zuckerberg, his board and the long list of banks advising the company for making “untrue statements” about its financial performance.
Robbins Geller is bringing the second class action law suit in as many days against Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays and a host of Silicon Valley luminaries including PayPal guru Peter Thiel. A separate suit filed in California on Tuesday by investor Darryl Lazar claims that the social network’s share prospectus contained “materially false and misleading statements”.
It appears that some people believe that Morgan Stanley revealed information about a revision in facebooks’ potential earnings to some investors, but not all, and that this information should have been made widely available, but wasn’t.
On the bright side, Mark Zuckerberg and plenty of other people who were early investors got very rich from facebook’s IPO. Everyone who doesn’t fall into the ‘I got rich group’ may just have to wait until the dust settles and the lawyers have their day in court before it becomes possible to know what facebook stock is really worth.