Facebook's IPO Warning Was Only for Big Investors

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Sorry if you invested in that Facebook stock. We should have warned you. Or Facebook should have warned you, you know, the way it did with some of its large investors.

The Wall Street Journal's Gina Chon, Jenny Strasburg, and Anupreeta Das have your Thursday morning infuriation story about how big firms got some crucial information about "Facebook's dimming revenue prospects" from a May 11 "roadshow" meeting with underwriters and Facebook—somehow, you weren't in the loop.  The Journal's team writes

It is one of Wall Street's best-kept secrets: Securities firms are allowed to selectively confer with favored large investing clients about crucial information as they prepare IPOs.

Wall Street firms, for their part, say they give certain information to big clients because the clients pay for this type of data. It is typical in an IPO for analysts or sales staff to give certain information to clients, they added. But that usually doesn't apply to small investors.

Chon, Strasburg, and Das name Capital Research and Management along with Fidelity Investments as firms that got the news of Facebook's declining future. Business Insider's Henry Blodget was a bit more explicit with what kind of warning these firms got.  Though he didn't name names, Blodget wrote

The analysts cut their estimates because a Facebook executive who knew the business was weak told them to.

Put differently, the company basically pre-announced that its second quarter would fall short of analysts' estimates. But it only told the underwriter analysts about this.

The information about the estimate cut was then verbally conveyed to sophisticated institutional investors who were considering buying Facebook stock, but not to smaller investors.

And by smaller investors that means people like Jennifer Kohne who The Wall Street Journal reports sits on losses of about $30,000 as of Wednesday night, or one Roger Duvendack who lost around $18,000 on Monday. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.