Lessons Learned from LinkedIn's Blockbuster IPO

Tech experts and investment analyst alike are still scratching their heads

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LinkedIn shares appear to be rallying again today despite a mixed bag of forecasts from financial bloggers. The social network for professionals turned heads and dropped jaws last Thursday when a hotly anticipated initial public offering hurdled shares over $100 in the first day of trading. Since the company priced its IPO at $45, some speculated that bankers scammed LinkedIn out of hundreds of millions of dollars that the too-low offering price left on the table. The stock began tumbling downward Friday in the face of continuing hysteria surrounding the ballooning stock price and warnings of a new tech bubble and plunged to a still pretty handsome price of $84 per share. Late in the day, the stock took a turn and is inching its way back up towards $100 per share today. Here's what the pundits have been saying.

The banker scam story is bunk according to Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times. Despite the burgeoning national past time of bashing investment bankers and lambasting big business in general, the buzz surrounding Joe Nocera's theory that the banks scammed LinkedIn out of hundreds of millions of dollars is unwarranted. After all, many blasted the company for raising its price at the last minute only to suggest later that LinkedIn should've priced the stock higher in the face of such high demand. "If the banks had priced the offering at about $94--the price it closed at in its first day--and it subsequently fell to $45 a share, the public (and perhaps Mr. Nocera) would be up in arms that Wall Street had foisted a lousy deal on its unsuspecting clients, who were clamoring for a supposedly hot deal," says Sorkin.

This is not a bubble! says Forbes blogger Tom Taulli. Despite the obvious symptoms of an overhyped tech company heading towards underwhelming revenue, the comparison to the dot com bubble in the Nineties is totally overblown, Taulli says, and it's going to take some time to measure the impact that the social network will have on the market. "If we do have another bubble in techland, it’s likely going to take some time, say a couple years and there will need to be widespread participation." Numbers cited by The Atlantic's Derek Thompson show that "LinkedIn has the highest price-revenue of any stock anywhere," ever.

LinkedIn validates social media. In the Montreal Gazette, Mitch Joel implores investors to take LinkedIn's breakout success at the stock market as an indication that social media is a legitimate industry. "It's hard to believe that an online social network targeted to business professionals suddenly has a valuation that rivals brands like Tiffany & Co., Hormel Foods and Electronic Arts," he wrote. "[But] this is not a fad." Australian tech CEO Matt Barrie agreed saying that tech stocks--especially those related to social media--were hot again, if only for a couple of years. "The tech IPO is not just open, Reid Hoffman has driven a freight train through it," he said in a Sydney Morning Herald op-ed.

Wall Street needs a new method for IPOs suggests the Financial Times's John Gapper. Despite some recent media attention paid to determining initial public offering prices with an eBay method, investors seem uninterested in abandoning the old model. After all, if LinkedIn had let the market decide, there would be little debate over whether or not the company priced itself too high or too low. "It is a shame that such an elegant mechanism, with the potential for avoiding abuses by investment banks, has not caught on," says Gapper.

The media buzz itself is the story according to Felix Salmon at Reuters. "All that pomp and ceremony is worth something--as is the press coverage which comes with it," he writes in a recent blog post. "A fairer way of going public would necessarily mean that IPOs would become much less momentous events." LinkedIn may well stabilize around $90 a share, double the initial price, but investment experts are likely to keep speculating over the meaning of it all.

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