Facebook Tells Staff to Keep Focus Amid Market Debut
Facebook Inc. (FB) Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg sent a message to newly wealthy employees of the largest social-networking service on the day of its delayed stock-market debut: “Stay focused” and “keep hacking.”
The words were emblazoned on T-shirts handed out during a gathering of more than 2,000 people at the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters, according to a person who attended and asked not to be identified because the event was private. They were there to watch Zuckerberg mark the opening of trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market -- an event set back after Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ) failed to deliver trade-execution messages.
“Right now, this all seems like a big deal. Going public is an important milestone in our history,” Zuckerberg, who was wearing his trademark hoodie and flanked by Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld, told attendees. “But here’s the thing: Our mission isn’t to be a public company. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected.”
Facebook employees, including Zuckerberg himself, had only recently emerged from a “hackathon,” which drew together programmers working all night crafting code that might become the foundation for a new Facebook feature or application.
Throughout the night, staffers drank keg beer and ate pizza and chicken wings while building new apps, a person familiar with the festivities said. One group organized an impromptu foot race to In-N-Out Burger, a fast-food chain more than six miles away, while others lined up to wait for a campus coffee shop to hold its grand opening at 5 a.m.
By morning, television camera crews filled the parking lot outside while three news helicopters buzzed overhead. Zuckerberg was introduced to a throng of workers by Greifeld, who presented him with a Nasdaq-branded hooded sweatshirt.
“It’s sort of the changing of the guard,” Dan Rosensweig, the CEO of online book rental startup Chegg Inc., told a group of reporters who had gathered outside the Facebook headquarters. Rosensweig, the former chief operating officer at Yahoo! Inc., was involved in the Web portal’s negotiations to acquire Facebook for $1 billion in 2006.
“The best thing I’ve done is change the world by not getting the deal closed,” Rosensweig said of Yahoo’s failed bid.
Others visiting the Facebook offices included Donald Graham, the chairman and CEO of Washington Post Co., who has served as a mentor to Zuckerberg and a member of the social network’s board; David Sze, a partner at Facebook backer Greylock Partners, and Kirsten Keith, mayor of Menlo Park.
“Any time when you have new money, as we’ve seen with other companies here in Silicon Valley, it helps the economy,” Keith said in an interview. “And hopefully, we have great people who are becoming millionaires that want to give back to the community.”
Facebook shares hovered near the initial public offering price in its trading debut, following a record IPO that made the social network more costly than almost every company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. (SPX)
The shares rose 23 cents above the IPO price of $38 as of 4 p.m. in New York. Facebook sold 421.2 million shares to raise $16 billion yesterday, giving the company a $104.2 billion market value.
By mid-morning, dozens of employees were leaving the headquarters in cars and shuttle buses. Jasper Hauser, a graphic designer at the company, summarized his thoughts in a post on Twitter Inc.
“I want sleeeeppphgzzzzzz,” Hauser tweeted.
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