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When ambition collides with market

business Updated: Aug 21, 2012 20:54 IST

Once hailed as the most valuable technology company to hit Wall Street, Facebook is now worth just over half what it was three months ago, with shares closing at $20.01 on Monday. Wall Street analysts are openly wondering whether chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, has the business skills to deliver on his promises.

Facebook's troubles began in earnest with an exceptionally ambitious initial public offering. Even the grown-ups that Zuckerberg, 28, chose to run the business side of the company - Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operations officer, and David Ebersman, the chief financial officer - seem not to have been skilled enough to stave off that disaster. Nor were the banks.

"The company is suffering from a classic disease - it went public at too high a value," said Dan Alpert, a partner with Westwood Capital, an investment bank that did not participate in the Facebook offering.

Some of the scrutiny has been on Zuckerberg's leadership. The very qualities that created the fairy tale aura, including his youth and ambition, are what even his admirers are questioning.

"I don't think he's doing a bad job of running the company, if that means setting the company's direction or driving product strategy," said one person who invested in Facebook when it was still private. "He's doing a very bad job of managing Wall Street." NYT