Why Facebook's Falling Share Price Really Doesn't Matter

Facebook Price
Facebook Price

On Monday, Facebook's stock fell from its IPO price of $38 to a low of (as of this writing) $33.60.

So what?

As outlets from The Wall Street Journal to MSN breathlessly reported, Facebook's (FB) official value lost about $12 billion over the weekend, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now worth about $2 billion less than he was on Friday.

Again, so what?

With investors across the world screeching like drenched cats and headlines questioning whether or not the social network is already headed down the drain, some critics have assumed that Mark Zuckerberg and company are quaking in their boots. However, nobody who actually paid attention to Facebook's statements before the IPO should be surprised by this latest turn. Long-term investors should postpone the worrying until some actual news surfaces; in the meantime, Facebook will sweat off the short-term investors and settle in for the long haul.

As part of his company's IPO, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a letter to potential stockholders, laying out a vision that sounded less like a business proposal and more like a vision for remaking society. In it, he talked about opening up communication, taking big risks, being bold, and maximizing his company's impact. It was an interesting letter, full of exciting ideas, but for short-term investors hoping to make a quick buck, it was missing one key aspect: a promise of huge returns.

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Like most of Zuckerberg's moves, the letter was deliberate and thoughtful. He has made no secret of his lack of interest in selling stock in Facebook; in fact, were it not for SEC rules, chances are that Facebook would still be privately held. And, to be fair, it's easy see why anybody who is interested in the long-term health of a company would want to avoid putting it in stockholders' hands: If the past decade has taught one lesson, it's that the stock market operates on short-term gains and losses, not on far-reaching plans.

And Zuckerberg's plans are nothing if not far-reaching.


Facebook - A Timeline

Ultimately, Wall Street's squeals about the price of Facebook stock are largely meaningless. Zuckerberg controls 57% of Facebook's voting power, which means that investors looking for a say in how the company is run might consider applying for a job there -- they're certainly not going to carry a lot of voice at shareholder meetings. But for those who are interested in holding onto the stock for a long time, there isn't any cause for worry: If Zuckerberg's tenure has shown anything, it's that he is a smart, dynamic leader who knows how to make his company grow.

Given its current path, Facebook is poised to remain at the forefront of social media for the foreseeable future. In other words, for those holding a few shares of the stock -- and, better yet, for those who will buy a few shares after the quick sale folk run for the hills -- Zuckerberg and company promise to be a good place to trust their money.

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at@bruce1971.

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