NASDAQ CEO Gets Pummeled For Being “Out Of Touch” During Facebook IPO

The “whining” issue is the widespread complaint that Facebook’s stock fell after the IPO. Some investors apparently thought they they were entitled to a boatload of free money just for buying the stock, and they have learned the hard way that nothing on Wall Street is guaranteed.

The legitimate complaints about the IPO are that NASDAQ screwed up trading the first day and that big investors got critical information about Facebook’s second quarter that small investors didn’t get.

The “selective disclosure” issue, in which big investors learned that Facebook’s second quarter was weak, may well have contributed to Facebook’s price decline after the IPO; as investors learned about the Q2 weakness, they may well have decided to dump the stock.

Meanwhile, criticism of NASDAQ’s screwup continues, with the Wall Street Journal becoming the latest to publish a detailed investigation into what happened.

One revelation in the WSJ story is that NASDAQ CEO Bob Greifeld was out of touch for most of the day–in Business Class on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to New York. Most commercial planes these days have Internet access (or, at least, phones), but no one heard a peep from Greifeld for five hours. So he is now being portrayed as clueless, pampered, and uncaring–floating home in the front of the plane while Facebook investors got hammered by NASDAQ’s screwup.

This particular criticism seems unfair–if Greifeld weren’t being clobbered for flying home, he’d be being clobbered for remaining in California–although it’s certainly worth finding out whether Greifeld’s flight had Internet access and, if so, why Greifeld didn’t use it.

The broader and more important question, why NASDAQ screwed up the IPO, also still hasn’t been answered. But an ongoing investigation by the SEC will likely eventually reveal what happened. Greifeld has announced that NASDAQ will reimburse Facebook investors who were affected by the technical problems on Facebook’s first trading day. The stock exchange has set aside $40 million for compensation.


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