We've been watching the expected price of LinkedIn go up and up for weeks now. Drawing the comparison to the companies who did the same in 2000 only to lose it all when the bubble burst is now a well-rehearsed argument. Our version from yesterday is fairly straight-forward, but The New Yorker's version out today goes a bit more in depth. Written by John Cassidy, the author of Dot.con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era, would-be investors will be pleased to hear this perspective:
Having written an entire book about the original dot-com bubble, I’m trying to resist the urge to say this is a 2.0 version of the same. For several years now, the I.P.O. market has been effectively closed to U.S. Internet companies, and the only cash-out option for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists has been selling to a big public company, such as Google or Microsoft. This didn’t make much sense. The likes of LinkedIn and Groupon aren’t Webvan and Pets.com. They are real companies, with real competitive advantages, and they operate in a sector of the economy where the United States has a big lead.
Digging into the numbers does show that LinkedIn's ballooning price seems a little curious. But here's a really interesting question: What does LinkedIn gain from an initial public offering anyways? Founder Reid Hoffman stands to make as much as $665 million with his 21.2% stake in the company--that amounts to 19,066,032 shares. CEO Jeffrey Weiner will make a comparatively paltry $80 million. The pay day at the earlier price would be 30 percent less for both.
Money may be worth less than power, however. As the Financial Times' Richard Waters pointed out yesterday evening, the strange shareholder structure of LinkedIn will mean that after the IPO, Reid Hoffman will more or less have total control over the company.