专栏 - 从华尔街到硅谷


Dan Primack 2012年05月22日

Dan Primack专注于报道交易和交易撮合者,从美国金融业到风险投资业均有涉及。此前,Dan是汤森路透(Thomson Reuters)的自由编辑,推出了peHUB.com和peHUB Wire邮件服务。作为一名新闻工作者,Dan还曾在美国马萨诸塞州罗克斯伯里经营一份社区报纸。目前他居住在波士顿附近。


    有些反对意见确实有理,比如担心Facebook的其他广告大客户会步通用汽车公司(General Motors)的后尘,一走了之不再投放。但我听到最多的批评意见则纯属受到了严重误导:这种说法认为,Facebook的内部人士、也就是那些对公司最知根知底的人,打算在IPO时抛售股份,从而获得最大收益。比如菲利克斯•赛门就写道:“上市似乎意味着时机已经成熟,那些聪明的热钱(smart money)可以大赚一笔、弃Facebook而去了。”

    首先,并没有什么“聪明的热钱”套现离场。以Facebook最大的外部股东,风投公司加速合伙公司(Accel Partners)为例。它计划出售现有股份的约25%,也就是仍将持有约1.5亿股。而这些规模可观的股份还将至少锁定三个月。俄罗斯风投公司DST集团则将出售现有股份的约37%,而其剩余的8,500万股则必须持有到明年5月。而T.罗•普莱斯所持的1,800万股则原封不动,一股不卖。


    值得一提的反例是谷歌公司(Google)。它的两大风投——凯鹏华盈投资公司(Kleiner Perkins)和红杉资本(Sequoia Capital)在谷歌上市时都按兵不动,仍持有全部股份。但是,正如我以前曾指出过的那样,这两家公司其实倍感压力。首先,谷歌上市时,它们投资不过才五年而已。但加速合伙就不同了。它七年前就已投资Facebook,所用资金原本是要到2014年底全部返还给有限合伙人的。换句话说,它完全有理由开始抛售股票,而这么做其实跟Facebook未来的赢利前景如何没什么关系。

    其次,Facebook的很多内部人都是中后期投资者,他们之所以投资,就是打算在上市时能出售部分股权。比如高地投资(Elevation Partners)和高盛公司(Goldman Sachs)都是分别于2010年和2011年才出手投资的。而谷歌则根本没有这类投资者。

    Facebook is going public tomorrow, which means that it's spent the past week getting ripped apart by bloggers, analysts and professional investors. You know, the same people who built Facebook up over the past several years. It's basically become a tech IPO right of passage. Just ask Groupon (GRPN) or Zynga (ZNGA).

    Some of the anti-hype has merit, such as worries that other large Facebook (FB) advertisers will follow General Motors (GM) out the door. But the knock I've heard most often is seriously misguided: That Facebook insiders -- those who should know the company best -- are signaling peak value by virtue of their decision to sell shares in the IPO. As Felix Salmon wrote: "This seems to be the point at which the smart money is getting out of Facebook."

    First, no "smart money" is actually getting out of Facebook. For example, take a look at Accel Partners, which is Facebook's largest outside shareholder. The venture capital firm plans to sell around 25% of its position, which means it would still hold around 150 million shares. Moreover, that sizable remainder would be locked up for at least the next three months. Russia's DST Group plans to sell around 37% of its position, and will be required to hold onto its remaining 85 million shares until next May. And then there is T. Rowe Price, which isn't selling even one of its 18 million shares.

    In other words, insiders are generating partial liquidity while remaining... well, insiders. It is true that venture capital investors often don't sell shares at IPO, but that's usually more because they can't than because they don't want to. In fact, many VCs prefer trade sales to IPO because it represents a clean exit, rather than a long bleed-out over which they have little control.

    The counter-example that gets thrown back here is Google (GOOG), whose lead venture capitalists -- Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital -- held onto all of their shares at IPO. But, as I've previously pointed out, the parallels are strained. First, Kleiner and Sequoia only had been investors in Google for five years at the time of IPO. Accel, by contrast, first invested seven years ago out of a fund that is expected to return all capital to limited partners by the end of 2014. In other words, it has reasons to begin selling down that have little to do with Facebook's future earnings potential.

    Second, many Facebook insiders are later-stage investors whose entire investment thesis involved a partial share sale at IPO. Firms like Elevation Partners and Goldman Sachs (GS), which invested in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Google simply didn't have those types of investors.

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