The Ups And Downs Of Facebook’s IPO

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Facebook's IPO is one of the biggest news stories of 2012 so far...are you up to speed? Here's an overview of the most important details of the IPO, from promising start to disappointing finish.

After abundant speculation and much anticipation, Facebook finally filed paperwork for an initial public offering on February 1, 2012, the same week the massive social network celebrated its 8th birthday. The S-1 revealed that Facebook had an estimated value of $100 billion and was hoping to raise $5 billion dollars, which would have made the company about four times as valuable as Google when Google went public in 2004.

Facebook filed with Morgan Stanley as lead underwriter, while Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and others took secondary positions. Shares were planned to hit the market in May 2012, but rumors soon began to fly that the IPO wasn't living up to the hype. Investors were skeptical about Facebook's prospects, as the site's ad revenues hadn't kept pace with its user growth. An investor poll conducted by Bloomberg found that 79% of investors, analysts, and traders thought that Facebook's $96 billion valuation was too high.

Facebook amended the S-1 filing several times, each time painting a bleaker picture of Facebook's future. One of the largest problems facing Facebook was the site's mobile versions. Facebook has yet to find a way to capitalize on its smartphone-based users, so the more users who check Facebook from their phones, the worse Facebook's average revenue per user (or ARPU) gets. Users are increasingly accessing Facebook from their mobile devices, meaning that Facebook's revenue is sinking.

After all the hysteria, the IPO's debut was anticlimactic. On its first day as a public company, Facebook's stock closed at $38.23 a share. That's down from the opening trading price of $42, but up from its IPO price.

Many theories attempt to account for the IPO's disappointing performance. One suggests that it's NASDAQ's fault, for failing to the stock until 11:30 am EST, 30 minutes later than planned. Another theory places the blame with GM, which pulled its advertising from Facebook shortly before the IPO because it wasn't working. Others say that Facebook was overvalued, or that investors are now weary of social media stock.

Whatever the reason, the rocky IPO cast doubts for many on Facebook's second-quarter revenue potential, and the doubts continue. After all the rumors and hype surrounding Facebook's IPO, what was billed as one of the biggest stories of the year became a non-story. There was little to tell, except that Facebook had underperformed.

In the weeks following the IPO, Facebook stock fell as low as low as $25.52. It is now around $28, but its future is still uncertain.

To find out if this social network can be a good way to meet new people for dating, please check out our review of Facebook.