Even though taking Facebook public would turn Mark Zuckerberg's share of the company into a liquid asset worth billions, he still doesn't want an IPO, even as Facebook prepares to go public. So how come he is going along with it? Zuck has said before that he thinks an IPO will ruin innovation in exchange for doing what will please shareholders and drive stock prices. In light of this, Facebook has very-real IPO plans. Yet, the founder and CEO still isn't keen on the idea, reports The Wall Street Journal's Shayndi Rice. "If it were up to Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook would remain private," she writes in an article about Facebook's IPO preparations.
Zuck's going ahead on the IPO because he basically has to. Zuckerberg knows that once the company has more than 500 shareholders he would have to publicly disclose the company's finances, notes Rice. As early as last January, Facebook said it had planned on increasing its shareholders above 500 within 2011, meaning at fiscal year's end it would have 120 days to disclose. That would make April 2012 the deadline. Given these time sensitive circumstances, Zuck realized this IPO is inevitable. This "ultimately convinced him it was the right step," writes Rice.
Beyond this 500 person threshold issue, Zuck thinks he has a way to get around his IPO conundrum. "People always talk about the downsides of these things, and I do think they're real," he told Rice. "But the management of the company fundamentally has control over the decisions it makes." With the perfect board, Zuckerberg hopes Facebook can keep his people on track. To get this board he has cycled through board members, until he crafted one that put him in control -- a tactic he learned from Sean Parker, who helped him build this corporate structure -- explains Rice. Now, as the company goes public, he knows he has management that he can trust even as he brings greedy shareholders into the equation. Take David Ebersman, Facebook's chief financial officer, who has taken the lead on the IPO. He has "played tough with Wall Street" and not relied on bankers for the IPO filing, creating a preparatory prospectus and dummy earnings calls scripts without their help, sources told Rice. These are the types of management to which the Facebook leader refers. Ones that don't fall all over Wall Street, but that do things the Zuck way.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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