Dressed in his trademark “hoodie”, Mark Zuckerberg stepped in front of hundreds of would-be investors on Monday in New York City to make the case for buying shares in his company, Facebook, writes Arash Massoudi.
The lunch-time stop was the first on a roadshow that will showcase the social networking site to potential investors across the country. The stream of investors filing out of the conference center at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan described the company’s performance on Monday as “polished and professional”.
The scene awaiting them outside was not unlike that which A-list celebrities encounter on a visit to the Big Apple. Swarms of tourists, journalists and passers-by lurked outside the hotel to catch a glimpse of the 27-year-old Mr Zuckerberg, whose appearance signaled a change of course from earlier reports that he was considering not attending the road show.
Last week Facebook revealed that the initial offer price for its shares, which will debut to the public on May 18, would be between $28 and $35 a share, giving the company a potential valuation of up to $96bn.
If the shares sell near the top-end of the estimated range given by the company, Mr Zuckerberg’s personal stake will be worth more than $17bn. Despite the imminent status as one of the world’s richest people, one potential investor remarked that Mr Zuckerberg seemed to be the same guy he was back in college, even down to his clothing.
The investor added: “It’s going to take several quarters of results to get a real sense of [Facebook’s] value. If the social media phenomenon is real, this is the company.”
But not everyone left the Sheraton on Monday thrilled with the company. Another investor complained that the meeting began 45 minutes late and ended 15 minutes early. A portion of the roughly one-hour long meeting was taken up by a 30-minute promotional video that had already been made public, irking some in attendance who had done their prep work.
“Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected”, Mr Zuckerberg says in the video, although taking Facebook public will mean that potential investors like those in attendance on Monday will also expect the company to deliver profits along the way.