One thing about Facebook is that Facebook doesn’t need the money that Facebook is raising in the Facebook IPO that Facebook just filed. (Did you hear?) It’s got almost $4bn in the bank and it can’t even be bothered to pretend that it’s got any plans for what to do with more:
The principal purposes of our initial public offering are to create a public market for our Class A common stock and thereby enable future access to the public equity markets by us and our employees, obtain additional capital, and facilitate an orderly distribution of shares for the selling stockholders. We intend to use the net proceeds to us from our initial public offering for working capital and other general corporate purposes; however, we do not currently have any specific uses of the net proceeds planned.
And while the selling shareholders undoubtedly will be happy to be able to sell in the open market, they can kind of do that now, with robust SharesPost and SecondMarket trading at high-eleven-figure valuations. Basically Facebook is IPOing because it’s got so many shareholders that it is legally required to register so might as well raise a few yards of rainy-day money while it’s at it.
When that’s your posture – and, to be fair, when people are beating down your door to buy your stock – you can be pretty, pretty cavalier with shareholder rights. What that means here is a two-class share structure (insiders get 10 votes per share, the public gets 1 vote), a board of directors that is not required to be independent, and Mark Zuckerberg controlling 57% of the voting power of the shares (while only owning 28%) via really quite all-encompassing voting agreements with current investors, some of which last until he dies. If your theory of public corporations is “they should be controlled by and for the benefit of the public shareholders,” this may trouble you. If your theory is “I’d follow Mark Zuckerberg anywhere,” then, carry on.
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