Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why I Don't Believe Sheryl Sandberg, Either...

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post called "Why I Don't Believe Thomas Friedman" which recounted his poor track record as an equity analyst of Anyone investing according to Friedman would have lost money. But I didn't believe him, and am still a satisfied Amazon stockholder as I write today...

Which brings me to media promotion for Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In. Quite simply, the amount of hype surrounding this launch appears surreal. Sandberg seems like she's being positioned for something big in the future by the powers that be. No question about that.

However, one bullet point missing from media discussion of her putatively new approach to feminist theory is any analysis of her role in the Facebook IPO--for which she shares responsibility as Facebook's COO.  Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the fateful May 18, 2012 market offer:

Facebook's long-anticipated initial public offering was ultimately plagued by a series of problems. Its exchange, Nasdaq, suffered a computer malfunction during the first hours of the IPO, leading to tens of millions of dollars in trades being wrongly placed. Its underwriter, Morgan Stanley, faced claims that the intial price was too high and that they had issued too many shares. With some Facebook executives, were accused of alerting industry insiders to Facebook's earnings before they were public. Facebook, Morgan Stanley, and Nasdaq are facing litigation over the matters. The stock lost over a quarter of its value in less than a month and went on to less than half its IPO value in three months.
For me, Sheryl Sandberg lost whatever credibility she may have had on May 18, 2012, in her botched handling of Facebook's IPO.

Why don't some of her interviewers ask her about that?

UPDATE: Apparently, because Sandberg refuses to talk about the IPO, as this post at the Huffington Post explainsNYC 123
10:01 AM on 03/10/2013
I'd like Ms. Sandberg to start answering the tough but fair questions surrounding the Facebook IPO that she has refused to discuss with reporters as millions of small retail investors, including many women lost thosands of dollars while Ms. Sandberg and her boss received millions. 

What exactly was your role Ms. Sandebrg in the Facebook IPO - the biggest debacle in the history of Wall St. Did you agree with the valuation and $38 share price set by Morgan Stanley? If not, did you "lean in" and express your concerns to the bankers on Wall St about the way it was being handled? If so, to whom and what if anything was done about it? 

What do you say to the thousands of small investors, including working class women who trusted you and bought into the IPO only to lose big time while you personally reaped tens of millions off the deal? This and marny more questions about your direct role in the Facebook IPO must be answered. 

Ms. Sandberg and her boss should be investigated by the SEC over their direct involvement and actions in the Facebook IPO and they both need to start answering the tough questions that CNBC and others have put to them and stop hiding behind their corporate lawyers.

Sheryl Sandberg Ducks Questions At Harvard About Facebook IPO Debacle--noted:

 Sandberg, who visited her alma mater with her parents and two children, only once made reference to the IPO in her speech. After urging the graduates to use Facebook to stay in touch, she said: "We're public now, so could you please click on an ad or two while you're there."
Asked before and after the speech to comment on the IPO, Sandberg said she was not speaking to the media.

IMHO a more appropriate title for Sheryl Sandberg's new book might have been:  DUCK! How to use a gender smokescreen to divert media attention from alleged securities fraud.

And yes, Sheryl K. Sandberg is named as a defendant along with Mark Zuckerberg in multiple cases alleging securities fraud over the Facebook IPO, according to a Justitia docket search--a fact not mentioned in most of the mindless and embarrassing media hype surrounding the launch of her self-serving book (which might possibly be seen by some as an attempt at jury tampering).

Or--is billionaire corporate executive Sheryl K. Sandberg "too big to jail?"

UPDATE 3: Apparently the markets don't believe Sheryl Sandberg, either, according to this CNN report:

Facebook's (FB) stock fell more than 2%, continuing a slide since the social network reported fourth-quarter earnings back in January. Shares are now down 10% since that report.
It's an understatement to say that this is not what the company probably had in mind following its ballyhooed initial public offering last year. Making matters worse, the Facebook dip comes at a time when the overall market is surging and tech stocks not named Apple (AAPL) are on fire.

UPDATE 4: Blogger Thierry Hubert had accused Sandberg of advocating click fraud, here