After two days on the road, Facebook leader Mark Zuckerberg has not impressed investors with his business savvy, when that's just what he should be doing.
After a hectic Monday in New York, when Zuckerberg kept his audience waiting because he got caught in the bathroom, the Facebook crew decided to switch things up a bit, hoping to smooth out the process. Instead of showing this "creepy, mesmerizing" video, which investors complained they'd already seen, Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg took the helm, answering questions about the social network's future business plan, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal's Jon Kamp, Kirsten Grind and Jennifer Levitz. While that move aimed to appease investors who wanted more Q&A time, Zuckerberg did not show at all, further angering some potential investors. He left about 200 people waiting and gave no reason for his absence. "I think if you're going to take public money, you should be at public meetings," Lawrence Haverty, Jr., an associate portfolio manager of Gabelli Global Multimedia Trust, told Kamp, Grind and Levtiz.
Thus far, Zuckerberg the CEO hasn't won over fans. Rather than the mature Zuck we learned about in this week's New York Magazine cover story, we're seeing hints of the stereotypical awkward Zuckerberg, who can't get it together for the New York suits. He shows up late for meetings or not at all. And when he does make it, his laid-back outfits haven't helped, coming off as shlubby. "Mark and his signature hoodie: He’s actually showing investors he doesn’t care that much; he’s going to be him," Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Securities said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. "I think that’s a mark of immaturity. I think that he has to realize he’s bringing investors in as a new constituency right now, and I think he’s got to show them the respect that they deserve because he’s asking them for their money," he continued. (Hoodies seem to have a lot of "meaning" these days.) Even the photos of him on the way to the road show kick off, he looks uncomfortable. (There you can see the infamous unprofessional hoodie, too.)
As Wall Street derides Zuckerberg, Silicon Valley has come to his defense. "This analyst is smoking stuff that is outside the realm of legality," writes GigaOm's Om Malik in a satirical take down of Zuckerberg's hoodie on his personal site. "Now if you were looking for a problem with Zuckerberg’s hoodie, then you should see it for what it really is: a fashion abomination," he continues. That follows tweets like this from Directions on Microsoft's Wes Miller. "If the best criticism you can offer on Facebook's IPO is, 'CEOs shouldn't wear hoodies', you should be at the Oscars, not an IPO roadshow," he tweeted. If you'd like a full, thorough take down, The Next Web's Alex Wilhelm also has a very angry-rage-y post against Pachter.
But, it doesn't much matter what the Valley thinks, the anti-sweatshirt crowd gets to vote. With hoodie-gate going on, it's probably best that Zuck didn't show his despicable zip-up wearing face on day-two. "What came across, and not to malign Mark Zuckerberg, was that there were no 'hoodies,'" Michael Mullaney, the vice president of Fiduciary Trust Company told The Journal, referencing the sharp, business-friendly attire of Sandberg and Ebersman. "These were business people who know how to run a business," he continued. He may have upset some. "I would have liked to see him out there at least answering some broader questions," Dana Cease, a senior investment analyst at John Hancock Asset Management, explained to The Journal. "It would be good to have some comfort." But, others appreciated Zuckerberg let the suits do the talking. "After hearing directly from Facebook executives, Mr. Mullaney felt the company appears to have a 'definite plan' and that he felt 'more comfortable with its story than I was prior to this,'" write Kamp, Grind, and Levitz.
The social network will likely finish up its road show this week, going full-on public on Friday. Even with the hoodie and other unprofessional snafus, the company's expected to price its shares in the $28 to $35 range, with a valuation of $77 billion to $96 billion. Oh, and that analyst who felt Zuckerberg's hoodie was inappropriate, had given the company a buy rating, with a target price at $44 per share last week. But, that was before the CEO wore his signature look on his sales trip.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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