Why Did Goldman Unload Its LinkedIn Shares So Early?

Critics and optimists weigh in on the implications of LinkedIn's ferocious first day

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Hysteria around LinkedIn stock hit a watershed moment around 11am today. It was around the same time that finance blogs were posting their reactions--many of which were simply befuddled by the fact that the social media company's stock had doubled in two hours. And then LNKD really took off. By noon, it had peaked at $115, a thrilling 137% surge up from the $45 opening price tag for institutional clients last night. As you can see, things have been a little shaky since then, but the stock is still stronger than expected. Here's a snapshot of today's performance from Google finance:

In what some have deemed the biggest IPO of an American internet company since Google, everybody has an opinion. While most of those opinions weigh whether or not we're in a new tech bubble, some people are just having fun with today's biggest finance story.

LinkedIn Got Screwed Out of $130 Million. Henry Blodget delivers the bad news on Business Insider--he'd previously made a very similar statement about Zipcar's IPO. LinkedIn's underwriters, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, helped set the price of the shares at $45 each, but they probably could've asked for $90, effectively cheating LinkedIn out of over $100 million. "And the best part of this screwing is the fact that LinkedIn probably has no idea it got screwed. In fact, the company is probably thrilled with the IPO result," says Blodgett. And they should be, he says. But they could have been tens of millions of dollars more thrilled.

Goldman Left the Party Too Early.Whether they'll blame BoA, Morgan Stanley, or their own analysts is unclear, but Goldman Sachs also left a boatload of money on the table when they dumped all of their 871,840 shares at the $45 offering price. Don't cry for Goldman just yet. The company bought those shares back in 2008--mostly likely for around $6 per share--and still made a lot of money in today's IPO. History might prove them shrewd, suggests Colin Barr on Fortune's Street Sweep blog:

Goldman may be banking on a replay of this month's other hot IPO, the May 4 debut of Chinese social networking company Renren (RENN). Its shares jumped more than 70% (see chart, right) when trading started, topping out at $24 early on their first day after pricing at $14.

Bubble or No Bubble, People Want Tech Stocks. We sort of knew this going into today's IPO, but everybody is interested in sinking their teeth into successful tech companies--especially social media companies. On Wired's Epicenter blog Sam Gustin writes:

New tech bubble or not — your mileage may vary — it’s very clear that there is massive demand in the public markets to own a piece of these high flying internet names. Web auto rental company ZipCar raised $174 million and watched its stock price close up 60 percent in its first day of trading. Demand Media, which went public in January, enjoyed a 33 percent first-day pop. And Chinese internet social networking giant Renren — referred to as “the Facebook of China” — went public, soaring 40 percent higher in its first day of trading.

Of course, we know know how well things worked out for Renren.

Wow This Is Crazy. Shira Ovide has been watching this deal with skepticism on the Wall Street Journal's Deal Journal blog, and we've quoted her wry tone often in our own coverage. In her reaction post she points out that everybody underestimated the hype about today's IPO, especially the private markets who valued LinkedIn at just $2.5 million. (According to the current trading price, LinkedIn is worth $10.5 billion, Ovide says.) But let's be honest, she says: this whole thing is just "crazy."

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