Mark Zuckerberg and mega-social media site Facebook have both been in the news quite a bit recently, between the company’s disastrous IPO and the many, many people who are unhappy with it. Now, a class-action lawsuit is being brought against Zuckerberg by some of those unhappy investors, who claim the mogul unloaded a huge amount of stock on inside information that it wasn’t worth its estimated value.
Zuckerberg is no stranger to legal battles; last year he was sued over a Facebook page that garnered a wave of backlash from the Jewish community, and just a week after the company went public, they were sued for hiding “unfavorable growth forecasts” before the IPO. Oh, and there was that whole Winklevoss scandal.
This lawsuit, however, could get big very quickly. It claims that JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley all tipped off only the investors with the largest stake in the company about the serious undervalue of the stock well before the IPO, leaving everyone else who invested their hard earned dollars in the dust. As of Monday morning, shares had fallen to around $26.00 apiece, far below the initial $38.00 projected value.
Former Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget spoke up on behalf of investors, calling the insider trading allegations “absurd and unfair.” He goes on to say that the SEC should change their rules about such information being shared, asserting that every investor has the right to know what’s going on with the IPO.
“This is an absurd and unfair practice,” he said. “The estimates themselves are material information–the consensus of smart, well-trained analysts who have worked with the company’s management to develop realistic forecasts. Most investors don’t even know that these estimates exist, let alone that they’re whispered verbally to only a handful of big investors. All potential investors should have easy access to these estimates, as well as to any logic underlying them. The SEC needs to change the rules here.”
While the exact amount of Zuckerberg’s sold shares isn’t known, rumors put it around a billion dollars, and that adds up to a lot of angry stockholders. There have been accusations that Zuckerberg himself is to blame for the disastrous IPO on the grounds that he is an egomaniac who allowed the company to offer inflated projections in order to justify Facebook’s $100 billion valuation. That, in turn, leads many people back to the idea that Facebook will be struggling in the years to come and may fall off or disappear completely within the next five years.
Speculation on Facebook’s staying power has been a topic of conversation practically since the company was founded, especially since there are so many competing social media sites. And while Facebook has grown exponentially with the help of advertising and incorporating their brand into other sites via login links, they have sadly neglected their mobile app. That, says Ironfire Capital’s Eric Jackson, could prove to be their downfall.
Facebook has acknowledged the glitch in their Matrix, even stating in their IPO filing that if users continue to choose mobile devices over PCs for their Facebooking needs, it will negatively affect the company because they can’t keep up with demands. That acknowledgement may not bode well for the company in light of this lawsuit, and it begs the question of whether or not insider trading was indeed an issue right before the IPO. Did Zuckerberg use that information for his own gain and bail while he still could? What does he know that we don’t?
The fact that the company’s head honcho took off on a honeymoon right after the stocks began to tank isn’t sitting well with investors, either. Since he’s been traveling with his new bride, Zuckerberg hasn’t had time to comment on this latest news and what it might mean for his company, but it looks like this case could get nasty pretty quickly as the very people who are supporting Facebook are demanding answers and accountability from its owner.