Jean Eaglesham has a big piece of news today: yes, the SEC is looking into the private share dealings in Facebook. But not necessarily with any kind of enforcement in mind. Instead, it’s thinking about raising the 500-shareholder limit which marks the point at which companies need to start making public filings.
I had a pretty involved Twitter conversation with TED today on the implications of the fact that fewer companies are going public. We’re both agreed that from a corporate-finance perspective, the trend makes perfect sense: the all-in cost of private equity is lower than the cost of going public. (For reasons why that might be the case, see here or here for starters.) But broadly speaking, from a public-policy perspective, is this a good thing or a bad thing? My thesis is that it’s a bad thing.
John Abell asks a very good question about a privately-traded Facebook:
Aren’t all the people investing at this moment assuming that a $50 billion valuation is a bargain? What will drive a higher valuation — let’s limit it to the Goldman Sachs Golddiggers — that makes the investment savvy?
The NYT is reporting that Goldman Sachs only made its $450 million investment in Facebook after its in-house private equity fund, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, passed on the deal.