In the weeks following Facebook's botched debut on the NASDAQ market the two have had a nasty, complicated, break-up—almost. Like partners locked in an on-again, off-again romance, these two can't get to the actual splitting up part. Since its glitchy debut, Facebook has threatened to end this thing, pulling its stock off of NASDAQ for a more supportive, stable market. And the social network almost made the move, but opted to stay in this thing, realizing it would miss the market too much, at least according to The Wall Street Journal's Aaron Lucchetti, Shayndi Raice and Jenny Strasburg: "Facebook executives have decided to keep the company's stock listing on the Nasdaq Stock Market, despite lingering frustration with the exchange's bungling of its widely anticipated initial public offering," they write. Let's take a look how this affair has gone from messy to messier.
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Phase 1: Meant for Each other
As the first electronic market, NASDAQ attracted big tech names like Apple and Google, making it a good match for the Internet 2.0 company. NASDAQ had been competing with the New York Stock Exchange for Facebook's affection. Facebook chose NASDAQ, and NASDAQ pinned the social network, so to speak, with the FB ticker symbol. "It’s a high-profile win for their listings business," Michael Adams, an analyst Sandler O’Neill told DealBook's Evelyn M. Rusli. “In terms of earnings, the impact won’t be dramatic, but it’s something to be proud of."
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Phase 2: The Blame Game
After a debut that left Facebook's stock just a smidgen above its opening market price, the two started fighting, pointing fingers. Facebook blamed NASDAQ's technical problems and felt that NASDAQ didn't communicate well. "Facebook is upset about Nasdaq’s lack of communication, according to people close to the company. Executives were left out of important decisions like whether the stock should begin trading at all given the crush of early issues," writes DealBook's Evelyn M. Rusli. And though NASDAQ admitted its faults, as arguments go, it said that these glitches had little to do with Facebook's stock market fail. "Mr. Greifeld, Nasdaq’s chief, assured the press that Nasdaq’s errors had not affected the stock’s performance," continues Rusli. Meanwhile, some still blame investor overconfidence -- not NASDAQ -- for the stock's less than impressive price, which is still trading around $31, well below that $38 starting price. And considering all the information that has come out about Facebook's suspect advertising model, NASDAQ doesn't deserve total blame for Facebook's flaws.
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Phase 3: Sorry Isn't Good Enough
This is where things really started to deteriorate. After that statement, Facebook execs said they felt a sense of "betrayal," says Rusli, leading one Facebook honcho to threaten Greifeld. "You don’t understand the hole you’re in," he said, a source told Rusli. NASDAQ further defended itself, with Greifeld using the ole-excuse standby, saying his cell was out of service (basically) during the Facebook fall-out. Here's that sad excuse for an excuse from the Wall Street Journal's Jenny Strasburg, Andrew Ackerman and Aaron Lucchetti:
So, marooned for almost five hours in business class with a phone he says didn't work, he didn't realize that continuing breakdowns at his exchange had left countless investors not knowing how many Facebook shares they had bought or sold and at what price, nor did he know the SEC chief wanted to reach him.
"You wake up, you turn around, and there's a black or dull spot," Greifeld told Strasburg, Ackerman and Lucchetti. "You can't get away from it."
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Phase 4: This Is Over (Not Really)
Facebook's still pissed, yet has not dumped NASDAQ. Perhaps the admission of guilt from Greifeld where he blamed his own "overconfidence" and "arrogance" for the screw-up sufficed. "There was not enough of a check and balance," Greifeld said. "We did not have enough business judgment in the process." The personal apology to Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman didn't hurt either. "The decision came as Nasdaq executives have sought to repair relationships frayed by Facebook's rocky debut," write Lucchetti, Raice, and Strasburg. Or maybe Facebook realized that as badly as NASDAQ has messed up, it needs the market just as much as the market needs it. "They [Facebook] determined a move would further drain confidence in the company's battered shares." Facebook doesn't need a break-up right now, it needs companionship -- even if it comes from a screw-up of a market.