The start of its initial public offering
(IPO), a wedding and a bizarre move to ban photos of a dying baby all have one thing in coming – each centres around social media site Facebook.
The first piece of news that emerged on Facebook’s first day as a public company was that the company’s stock had closed at $38.23 a share, indicating a paltry 23c jump in its share price. Apparently, this was met by disappointment on Wall Street, with the company’s IPO being decried
by some investors as ‘falling flat.’
Apparently a thirty minute delay between the time the company’s stock was meant to start trading and when it actually became available, took some out of the wind out of Facebook’s sails.
Naturally, Facebook’s big day was met by its fair share of mirth and sarcasm on Twitter according to Mashable
. One tweet joked that “at $38 per share I’m totally going to start sharing on Facebook more.” Another decried the effect the listing would have on house prices as many Facebook employees became instant millionaires, joking that “today would be the last day one would be able to buy a house in the Valley without robbing a bank or starting Instagram.”
Yet another, by Dapper Diner, stated “I’m very excited about the Facebook IPO because it means we’ll be close to the end of hearing about the Facebook IPO.”
Are advertisers falling out of like with Facebook?
The latter highlights what some advertisers might be feeling – earlier in the week it was revealed that General Motors (GM), one of the US’s largest advertisers, had decided to cease advertising on the social network after finding that it had little impact on people’s buying decisions.
According to the Wall Street Journal
, the decision “raises questions about the ability of Facebook to sustain the 88% revenue growth achieved in 2011.”
GM are not the only one’s questioning Facebook’s advertising effectiveness. In the same report, the Wall Street Journal quoted Nate Elliott, an analyst at market research firm Forrester, as stating "Companies in industries from consumer electronics to financial services tell us they're no longer sure Facebook is the best place to dedicate their social marketing budget—a shocking fact given the site's dominance among users."
Amid this, questions were raised by Facebook’s seemingly arbitrary censorship policies when Facebook removed photos shared by a grieving mother, Heather Walker, who posted photos of her son Grayson, who lived for only eight hours after being born with Anecephaly, a medical condition in which part of the skull is exposed. After she and her friends began reposting the pictures, Walker then found herself being banned from posting pictures for 24 hours.
According to CNET
, this sparked a wave of outrage, resulting in Facebook at first explaining that the ban occurred because “someone had complained” about the graphic nature of the images, and then reversing its decision and apologising to the family.
Something weird and a wedding
To cap off the Facebook news, this followed reports
that Facebook’s co-founder, Eduardo Saverin was going to renounce his US citizenship ahead of the IPO and take up residence in Singapore, reportedly to avoid paying taxes. Saverin’s fortunes following the IPO are apparently in the region of $3 billion.
As if all this wasn’t enough to keep Facebook in the headlines, it was then revealed that founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, had married his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, in a small ceremony, in his backyard. This came as a surprise to the 100 or so friends gathered, who thought they were there to celebrate Chan’s graduation from medical school.
To the point
All in all, May has certainly been Facebook’s month so far, even if the much hyped IPO seems to have fallen a little flat.
Both the IPO and the baby-photo banning debacle though pose a far more serious and relevant question though: now that Facebook is public and answerable to shareholders, what exactly will the social network become in the years ahead? Will it morph far beyond its original purpose and became swayed by external interest? We shall see.