Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Greed. for lack of a better word, is good

"The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperate they want it." Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street"

It was hard not to think of the great film Wall Street this week with news that Facebook "stumbled out of the gate" as one scribe referred to its stock losing value after its stratospheric IPO. Critics of modern capitalism often note that a company's true value, the worth of the goods or services it produces, is often disconnected from its value as an investment to real-world Gordon Gekkos.

But those of us in the business of perception understood what Gekko was talking about when he noted that perception becomes reality, and people respond accordingly. Nothing about Facebook itself -- the social networking site, that is -- is different now than it was before the IPO. As far as I know they haven't launched one of their notorious redesigns or changed their privacy policy, or anything that impacts the user. Sure, some analysts tried to pin Facebook's slide on diminished ad revenues, failure to generate ads on its mobile products, or news that GM planned to drop paid ads from Facebook. But the true culprits appear to be an excessive number of shares issued by Facebook, along with possible misdeeds by its underwriters and bungling by NASDAQ.

Some critics felt Facebook was overvalued from the get-go, and looked at its meager first-day returns as a natural correction. Facebook is as dominant a social network as it was last week, but perhaps no one wants to buy into the illusion that it can remain that way forever.

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