Facebook IPO is set to create "thousands of millionaires"
That has led some to resent the site, which makes money off its users' data
Facebook tries to counter all the negativity by saying "Likers gonna like"
It’s no shock that people love to hate Facebook.
On Friday, for some, the emphasis shifted to hate as Facebook went public, turning its CEO into a billionaire and, as CNNMoney gracefully put it, making “thousands of millionaires” out of the rest of its staff and stockholders.
“Well most Americans are bitter and hateful toward anyone and anything more successful than themselves,” one commenter wrote on that story.
“Just me or anyone else really hoping for Facebook stock to take a nose dive and never come back up? I want to watch it drop like a rock,” one Twitter user wrote on the eve of Facebook’s initial public offering Thursday.
Here’s a rant from one financial analyst, spotted by Time.com, which shares a parent company with CNN and authored a recent post called “Sick of hearing about Facebook? You’re not alone.”
“But do I really need to see another article about how the Ferrari dealers in Silicon Valley have brought in extra inventory in anticipation of all the new millionaires? Or how Menlo Park and Palo Alto housing prices, which were already sky-high, are soaring even higher from all the new money?” the analyst, Tracey Ryniec, wrote.
“I can’t wait for this week to be over so we can talk about some other companies.”
Some of the venom online was directed at the Winklevoss twins, those rowing-happy Harvard kids who repeatedly have been suing for part of Facebook.
Dubbed “the Winklevii” in the film “The Social Network,” Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are set to make millions off of Facebook’s IPO despite the fact that some courts have rejected their claims that Zuckerberg stole their idea for his blockbuster website. They could make $228 million for their 6 million shares in the company, according to a CNNMoney gallery on Facebook’s new billionaires.
At The New Yorker, Silvia Killingsworth writes that we all should give the Winklevii a bit of a break – especially since they’ve been good sports about their anti-fame:
“Sure, the Winklevii may sound a little cheesy finishing each other’s sentences – a well-enunciated mix of locker-room pep talk and well-worn entrepreneurial Web-2.0 jargon – and they will be subject to Al Gore-style Internet-invention jokes until the end of time. But who’d have known they’d be such good sportsmen about it? In the movie, Cameron gets frustrated at one point and hollers. ‘Screw it! Let’s gut the frigging nerd!’ In real life, the twins seem to have become entirely content with chasing the nerd around the courts, and collecting their cut of the biggest tech I.P.O. in history.”
Others are teasing CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself.
The comedian Andy Borowitz posted a fake letter from the 28-year-old to potential investors. It opens:
“For years, you’ve wasted your time on Facebook. Now here’s your chance to waste your money on it, too.”
It ends like this:
“One last thing: what will, I, Mark Zuckerberg, do with the $18 billion I’m expected to earn from Facebook’s IPO? Well, I’m considering buying Greece, but that would still leave me with $18 billion. LOL. Friend me, Mark”
According to The New York Times, Facebook’s new billionaires may spend their money in subtle (but still over-the-top) ways. On Thursday, the paper looked at spending culture in Silicon Valley, finding that the really rich types spend money in ways that are difficult to detect without a rich-person radar:
“Fabulous home theaters are tucked into the basements of plain suburban houses. Bespoke jeans that start at $1,200 can be detected only by a tiny red logo on the button. The hand-painted Italian bicycles that flash across Silicon Valley on Saturday mornings have become the new Ferrari – and only the cognoscenti could imagine that they cost more than $20,000,” Somini Sengupta writes for the paper. “Even at Facebook, ground zero for the nouveau tech riche, peer pressure dictates that consumption be kept on the down low.”
Part of the reason some people are frustrated with Facebook this week is that all of us – the users of Facebook – are essentially the ones making the company so much money. My colleague Doug Gross looked at this on Wednesday. If you want to make the point really personal, check out this widget, which will tell you exactly how many dollars your Facebook page is making for the company.
It’s an estimate, of course, but it brings the point home. Here are details on the math they’re using to make the calculations, in case you’re feeling brainy.
Others used the opportunity to gripe about Facebook’s privacy settings, which are notoriously complicated (perhaps since the company wants info to be public):
“Why is Facebook going public? They couldn’t figure out the privacy settings either,” wrote one Twitter user.
Not all of the reaction is negative, of course.
Many tech bloggers and Wall Street watchers are cheering on Facebook’s run at the market, saying it’s yet another Steve Jobsian expression of the American Dream. “In 2004, who could have predicted that a Harvard sophomore would be destined to lead his dorm-room creation to a gajillion-dollar IPO eight years later?” wrote Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg at The Atlantic. “The life and times of Mark Zuckerberg are dramatic, even epic, and – you might say – lyrical.”
For more on that, check out this faux-musical about the company’s rise.
“I’m happy for Facebook, Zuck and others put in their own time efforts and own capital they deserve this reward,” another Twitter pundit said. “American Dream!”
Some people will see this post and say, “Yeah, yeah yeah. Haters gonna hate.”
That’s the tack Facebook appears to be taking.
According to the blog TechCrunch, Facebook’s Toronto office created a poster that counters all the negativity by saying “Likers gonna like” – a riff on the site’s mechanism for sharing content with friends.
The blog post ends with this little bit of sappy futurism:
“Facebook’s mission is ‘making the world more open and connected.’ Sometimes that means making people uncomfortable at first. You don’t have to agree with how Mark Zuckerberg does things, and you can hate if you want to. But remember, Facebook’s just the messenger. The message is the future.”
Feel free to complain about that in the comments section.