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Mark Zuckerberg's IPO challenge: A company that can 'friend' the 99 percent

Will the new publicly traded Facebook cater singularly to its wealthy shareholders? Mark Zuckerberg must strive to include ‘we the users,’ who made such a megabillion dollar concept possible, in his corporate model. He can start by offering a free share to each Facebook user.

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Facebook founder, chairman, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, applauds at the opening bell of the Nasdaq stock market May 18. Op-ed contributor Alexander Heffner writes of the Facebook IPO: At $38 a share, 'it’s hardly affordable in any meaningful quantity to a twenty-something such as myself.'

Zef Nikolla via Facebook/AP

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Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, contends this maxim remains at the core of the organization’s purpose. And on the pages of Facebook, these words still ring true, from facilitating communication between people who reside hemispheres apart, to disseminating the messages of citizens protesting repressive regimes like Syria’s, to connecting organ-seekers with potential donors.

But the initial public offering (IPO) that has just concluded was anything but “open and connected” for ordinary Americans. “Following the traditional Wall Street model, Facebook shares are being parceled out to a select group of investors at an offering run by the company’s bankers on Thursday evening, at an estimated $38 a share,” The New York Times reported yesterday.

I wanted to invest in Facebook because I believe in its generally powerful and life-affirming impact on humanity. But based on my own conversations with those familiar with the nature of the deal, I learned this week that I lacked the prerequisite ingredient: A personal connection to Facebook’s original backers.
Moreover, I would essentially be precluded from investing in the company until it went fully public and the price of its shares rose. Moreover, at $38, it’s hardly affordable in any meaningful quantity to a twenty-something such as myself.

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