SAN FRANCISCO, May 18 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc began trading on the Nasdaq on Friday, becoming the first American company to debut with a valuation above $100 billion.
The debut -- marred by technical hiccups and the lack of the first-day bounce in the share price that many had expected -- marks the formal ascension of the No. 1 social network to the ranks of Silicon Valley technology powerhouses.
Here are a few comments from movers and shakers in Silicon Valley:
DAN ROSENSWEIG, CEO OF TEXTBOOK-RENTALS SITE CHEGG, WHO TRIED TO BUY FACEBOOK FOR $1 BILLION WHEN HE WAS COO OF YAHOO:
”I don’t think anybody would have imagined all of this. Except maybe Mark. If you take away the valuation, those conversations with Mark were very deep about the definition of a platform.
”He just kept talking about a platform before the platform was cool. And I‘m not even sure he knew what it meant.
”But he had a vision for connecting people of all kinds. There were only four million people on the platform and they were all college kids, and if you think back then, you could only connect to people at your own college. You couldn’t even connect to friends at a different college.
“He had very big ambitions then and it’s pretty clear that he was well ahead of everybody and I think still is.”
”It’s really like buying into a 900-million Internet. A closed Internet, with all of these new types of applications that you can buy. Think about it as the early inning of buying into the Internet 20 years ago. Would you spend money to buy it? Today that seems like a good value. Because it’s not a one-trick pony.
”Literally everything you see on the Internet, in a parallel you could see inside Facebook. But done with much more of the ‘social graph’ built into it. So the experiences are going to be more personal, more tailored to you.
“Facebook is like a realtor. So they own the platform, they’re going to collect lease, they’re going to collect advertising, they’re going to be in the transaction flow with credits. In a way they operate the mall, and everybody in the mall will pay some way or another to Facebook.”
”After Google went public, there was a whole series of companies that were built on the search model, that were living in the search ecosystem that Google was building.
“I really see it as a whole set of companies that will come up inside Facebook. There’s an equivalent of LinkedIn inside Facebook. There’s an equivalent of EA inside of Facebook. There will be a robust set of companies that are going to create shopping experiences, local experiences. They’re all going to be candidates for future IPOs.”
DAVID SZE, PARTNER, GREYLOCK PARTNERS AND EARLY FACEBOOK BACKER
”Every great company is faced with challenges along the way.
”Early on, there was a belief that they never would be able to ever have any advertising revenue, that no one would ever pay for this, that social networking ads would never be real and that that would never work.
”We may see in mobile different emergent kinds of opportunities for monetization. What I love is they’re right in the right place at the right time, and they’re staying hungry. And they’re finding the ways that that’s going to be monetized in the future.
“Facebook is seeing 40 percent of the Internet spending 20 minutes a day there. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of engagement. That’s a lot of places where someone is going to be when they’re thinking about buying a car. And if GM doesn’t want to be there, we’ve seen by the tweets Ford wants to be there.”
On the shares’ modest debut:
”It looks like the bankers did a good job and the company did a good job of communicating its business and priced it well.
“I think it’s a huge distraction for companies when there’s giant pops at the beginning. It just creates more headaches to staying focused and doing what matters, which is building the business. And in truth the big pops are really about speculators and you don’t build businesses around speculators.”
”This starlet tripped on the red carpet. That’s clear. The underwriters are buying the stock. That’s why it’s not falling below the offering price. There was a wall of buying when the stock dipped to the $38 offer price.
”This is exactly what the underwriters are supposed to do. However, if the company is trading near $40 with assistance then the implied valuation is lower.
“They started out with a fairly aggressive price range, then jacked it up and threw a lot more shares into the hopper. You either juice the number of shares or the price, you don’t usually do both.”
When asked what he would do now that Facebook has gone public: “Probably sleep.”