Who Cares About Facebook?

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Yesterday Facebook announced they were raising the target price of their IPO from $34 to $38 per share. This can mean lots of things, but the conventional view (i.e., the one Facebook and its team of bankers would like you to believe) is that it represents wild enthusiasm for Facebook stock. But where is this enthusiasm coming from? Like me, Felix Salmon isn’t sure:

The press loves IPOs, because they’re one of the few occasions when the stock market delivers a significant news event which can be prepared for in advance. But the public? The whole investing-in-IPOs thing just feels so late-90s to me, and the performance of stocks like Groupon and Pandora is hardly likely to spark another feeding frenzy.

So when Henry Blodget describes the Facebook IPO as muppet bait, I do wonder who the muppets really are. Is it a genuine horde of individual investors, all clamoring to get in on the hot new stock offering of the decade? Or is it the muppets on CNBC, following Mark Zuckerberg’s every move like he’s the Pied Piper of Hamelin, only with a hoodie instead of a magic pipe?

The right way to think about IPOs doesn’t really have much to do with the fundamentals of the company itself. Who cares if Facebook is going to be either (a) a flop or (b) the biggest company in the galaxy five years from now? All you really care about is Facebook’s stock price the day after the IPO. Or, at most, a few months after the IPO. What you care about is whether other people are enthusiastic about Facebook. That’s it. It’s purely an exercise in forecasting the madness of crowds.

So who are the muppets? I guess they might be retail investors, but my guess is that they’re mostly big, sophisticated Wall Street guys, all trying to read each other’s minds. It’s the same game they play with every other security they trade, and they’re all convinced that someone else is the idiot. Main Street is just a sideshow.

UPDATE: And speaking of Facebook, the powers that be at MoJo have created a Facebook fan page for me. You can see it here:

https://www.facebook.com/drumblog

I have to confess that I don’t really understand why someone would rather read a Facebook page instead of just reading the blog, but that’s probably because I’m a 53-year-old dinosaur. However, even if you don’t want to read me on Facebook, maybe your kids do. Send ’em the link now!

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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