Monday, December 18, 2017
Business

Experts predict Facebook's initial public offering will come with a twist

NEW YORK — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg turns up at business conventions in a hoodie. "Cocky" is the word used to describe him most often, after "billionaire." He was Time magazine's person of the year at 26.

So when he takes Facebook public, why would he follow the Wall Street rules?

The company is expected to file as early as today to sell stock on the open market in what will be the most-talked-about initial public offering since Google in 2004, maybe since the go-go 1990s.

Around the nation, regular investors and IPO watchers are anticipating some kind of twist — perhaps a provision for the 800 million users of Facebook, a company that promotes itself as all about personal connections, to get in on the action.

"Pandemonium is what I expect in terms of demand for this stock," says Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at IPO Boutique, an advisory firm. "I don't think Wall Street would want to anger Facebook users."

The most successful young technology companies have a history of doing things differently. Google's IPO prospectus contained a letter from its founders to investors that said the company believed in the motto "Don't be evil."

Facebook declined to comment, but Reena Aggarwal, a finance professor who has studied IPOs at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, believes Zuckerberg will emulate Google's philosophy, at least in principle.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted an IPO accessible to all investors, and said so in their first regulatory filing. Facebook may say something similar when it files to declare its intention to sell stock publicly.

Facebook is expected to raise as much as $10 billion, which will value the company at $75 billion to $100 billion, making it one of the largest IPOs ever. A stock usually starts trading three to four months after the filing.

The highly anticipated filing will reveal how much Facebook intends to raise from the stock market, what it plans to do with the money and details on its own financial performance and future growth prospects.

It has almost become conventional for tech companies to include an unconventional letter when they make their stock market debut. It's widely expected that Zuckerberg, in the very least measure of showmanship, will write one.

But IPO watchers wonder whether there might be a provision specifically designed to give the little-guy investor, even the casual Facebook user who doesn't invest, a piece of the debut. Facebook is a vital part of people's Internet lives and the most successful company in the history of social media.

"There is a feeling that there will be something unique in store for Facebook users," Aggarwal said.

Zuckerberg's way

When most companies go public, they let Wall Street investment banks handle everything, with the sweet ground-floor stock price reserved for big institutional investors.

But that probably won't do for Facebook, created in a Harvard University dorm room eight years ago. Or Zuckerberg, whose antiestablishment credentials include spurning a $15 billion takeover offer from Microsoft.

Most IPOs are underpriced, and the stock usually shoots up the first day. Lucky large investors get the basement price and usually a big payday if they sell on the first day. Smaller investors buy on the open market, after the price has spiked, and pay more.

And most early investors do sell. One university research paper found that about 70 percent of the new stock changes hands in the first two days. Banks like large investors because it costs about the same to process an order of 50 shares as 50,000. But William Hambrecht, founder and CEO of WR Hambrecht & Co., a firm that runs IPO auctions, says companies that value their customers benefit in the long run.

"Our argument has always been that true buyers of your stock ought to be your own customer base," Hambrecht said. "As the great investor Peter Lynch said: Invest in what you know."

Comments
Another reason to buy a home in Tampa Bay? Down payments are lower here

Another reason to buy a home in Tampa Bay? Down payments are lower here

Homebuyers in the Tampa Bay area don’t have to shell out as much on downpayments as buyers in many other places. According to ATTOM Data Solutions, the median downpayment for a bay area home in the quarter ended in September was $13,750 compare...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

First-Citizens Bank & Trust acquires Tampa-based HomeBancorp

TAMPA — North Carolina-based First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co. is acquiring Tampa-headquartered HomeBancorp, which operates HomeBanc. First Citizens Bank will pay $15.03 per share in cash, a Monday release said, and the deal is expected to close by mid...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Video: Chick fil-A feeds thousands of hungry travelers stranded in Atlanta airport

Video: Chick fil-A feeds thousands of hungry travelers stranded in Atlanta airport

Chick fil-A is normally closed on Sundays, but it made an exception for the thousands who were stranded at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The travelers were left in the dark following a power outage that forced cancellation of mor...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
St. Pete-Clearwater airport expects holiday parking crunch, so consider arranging a ride

St. Pete-Clearwater airport expects holiday parking crunch, so consider arranging a ride

CLEARWATER — With passenger traffic picking up on Monday and expected to stay strong through Dec. 29, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport says it could run out of parking spaces, so passengers should consider making arrangements to be dropped o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida gas prices back to pre-Hurricane Harvey levels

Florida gas prices back to pre-Hurricane Harvey levels

Just in time for one of the busiest travel periods of the year, gas prices across Florida are back down to pre-Hurricane Harvey levels. Tampa Bay gas hit $2.30 per gallon today, while state prices averaged $2.37 per gallon, according to AAA, The Auto...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa flights affected as Atlanta airport outage creates holiday chaos

Tampa flights affected as Atlanta airport outage creates holiday chaos

ATLANTA — While power has been restored to the world’s busiest airport, the travel woes will linger for days.Thousands of people were stranded Monday morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where more than 1,000 flights were gro...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Bitcoin futures begin trading on CME, price little changed

NEW YORK — Another security based on the price of bitcoin, the digital currency that has soared in value and volatility this year, began trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Sunday. The CME Group, which owns the exchange, opened up bitcoin f...
Published: 12/17/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million ta...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a host and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and they de...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/17/17
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17