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Technology: The Double-Edged Sword of the Facebook IPO

According to Mary Meeker, a partner of VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the downfall of Facebook's stock on the day of its IPO…

According to Mary Meeker, a partner of VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the downfall of Facebook's stock on the day of its IPO was not a function of the bankers that helped create the IPO, as has been suggested, but — ironically enough — a result of technical glitches in the trading software.

As the Huffington Post pointed out, the high influx of orders to buy, sell, and cancel shares caused the NASDAQ software to malfunction. The 17-second blackout in the trading software led to further panic and a loss of trust on both the buy and sell sides of the Facebook stock. Given that people are still unsure of the status of their orders placed on the day of the IPO, there is an artificial lack of demand as a result from lack of confidence in the trading software. When consumers for any reason start to lose demand for a specific stock, there will be a resulting drop in the stock’s price.  Such an occurrence in the case of Facebook led to a temporary downward trend of the newly introduced Facebook stock. However, Meeker believes that it will only be a short run effect, and the stock will eventually begin trending upwards.

Although it is not officially confirmed that high frequency trading was a result of the technical malfunction in the NASDAQ trading software, it still holds true that technology is starting to hold a larger presence on the trading floor, both in the direct functionality of buying and selling in the stock market but also in the stocks that are being bought and sold. Online trading platforms make it possible for anyone to purchase stock in publicly traded companies. The malfunction in the NASDAQ trading software spanned out beyond those directly involved on the trading floor; for instance, 11-year-old Sam Lesser, who invested $10,000 in Facebook, was unsure of his trade’s status even three days after the IPO.

So, as Victoria Barret asked in Forbes shortly after the downturn, what does the Facebook flop mean for technology IPOs? Although there is no simple answer, it’s an important point to consider. Facebook was supposed to be "the mother of all offerings," and now that the IPO is set and done, its questionable result is leading to unease in the tech community. Whether Facebook is the set standard for upcoming tech IPOs is hard to tell given the technical difficulties that occurred, but only time will tell of Silicon Valley's ongoing presence on Wall Street.

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