Facebook shares saw an opening pop fade yesterday as the wildly popular social network made its long-anticipated market debut.
The shares, priced at $38 in the largest-ever initial public offering (IPO) for a technology company, jumped 12 per cent to $42.55 in the opening Nasdaq trades before enthusiasm faded and within minutes fell back to the $38 offering price.
Shortly after midday, the shares were back up 4.3 per cent at $39.65. "The reaction is a bit cooler than many would have hoped," said Gerard Hoberg, an economist at the University of Maryland.
Lou Kerner at the Social Internet Fund said the market action suggests the IPO was correctly priced. "The bankers appear in the first few minutes to have done a pretty good job," he said. "The company raised a ton of money, lots of early investors, employees, and founders were able to monetise shares, and it's trading up a little, so the new investors did OK."
Investors were expected to be hungry to get in at the start for Facebook, which has has amassed 900 million members since its beginnings in 2004 as a project of then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and his classmates.
Zuckerberg, wearing his trademark hooded sweatshirt, remotely rang the bell to open the Nasdaq, marking the historic share offering that confirms the growing importance of the social network giant.
Amid a crowd at Facebook's California headquarters, Zuckerberg and hundreds of employees cheered as the 28-year-old co-founder rang the bell via video for the New York-based Nasdaq.
Zuckerberg wore a dark hoodie, unfazed by criticism from some on Wall Street about his casual attire. And most of those on hand for the ceremony were wearing similar sweatshirts or T-shirts.
The IPO gave Facebook a dizzying value of $104 billion (Dh381 billion) at its market debut. The IPO raised more than $16 billion, making it the richest after that of financial giant Visa in 2008, according to Renaissance Capital. The addition of a possible stock "over-allotment" could boost the total to $18.4 billion. Facebook itself sold 180 million shares and early investors in the company the remaining 241 million.
With a market value of $104 billion, Facebook is now among the most valuable US companies, ahead of sector giants Amazon ($98 billion) and Cisco ($89 billion), and more than twice the value of Ford ($38 billion). But it remains behind Google ($203 billion) and Apple ($495 billion). Facebook employees staged a software coding "hackathon" at the company's offices in the Silicon Valley city of Menlo Park overnight ahead of the market opening.
Under the share plan, Zuckerberg, who began Facebook with classmates at Harvard in 2004, will hold 55.8 per cent of the voting power of Facebook shares, and over 18 per cent of the value of the company, which he controls through a dual class stock structure.
US stocks fluctuate between gains and losses
US stocks swung between gains and losses as Facebook's record initial public offering failed to boost confidence in a market rattled by Europe's debt crisis. Treasuries fell while the Dollar Index was little changed following a record 14th straight gain.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose less than 0.1 per cent to 1,305.18 at 12.28pm in New York after earlier dipping below 1,300 for the first time since January. Facebook rose 8.3 per cent from its $38 offering price, paring a gain of as much as 18 per cent. Treasury 10-year yields increased two basis points to 1.72 per cent after falling to about two basis points above a record low. Crude oil lost 0.3 per cent to a six-month low near $92 a barrel.