Who Cares About Facebook?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


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!

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.