Mark Zuckerberg is credited with saying something wonderfully poetic:
“By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.”
It’s a nice hypothesis: give people the ability to exchange thoughts and experiences and wisdom and they’ll be able to see the world more clearly.
Ironic, then, that the company he runs will probably never go public with its capital.
Is the world better if Facebook’s investors are private?
Would the public benefit if Facebook’s shares were traded on open exchanges?
Goldman Sachs recently injected $450 Million of private equity into Facebook for parcelling up to its wealthiest clients. The valuation workup for Facebook? $50 Billion.
WELCOME TO THE PANOPTICON
Facebook sees you when you gaze down your wall. Everyday, Facebook knows more and more about your data – perhaps more than you do. For Facebook tracks and remembers the trails of links you share and the people you friend – activity which you likely forget.
Is that kind of world, which Facebook is “making”, a healthy place to live?
Facebook is a one-way mirror. It’s becoming an all-seeing eye. And you? You are becoming the observed.
Is Facebook a Huxlian version of 1984? Perhaps. Zuckerberg, interestingly, was born in 1984.
Mark Zuckerberg has created the single largest gathering of human beings in the history of our species.
It’s a gathering he claims will share itself into freedom from the shackles of a murky world.
Here’s the problem with the capital arrangement Zuckerberg is hungry for: Capital is Trust, Trust is Capital.
Credit: Creditum – Credere – Credo – Belief in your promise. Trust.
Capital: Capitus – Cap – Capitol. Head. People.
Whatever your feelings about regulatory processes, one of the reasons the SEC was founded was to grant the public an accounting of financial and operational activities.
Private equity is an important part of the healthy operating system we call Democracy.
At some point, however, the public’s right to transparency outweighs the rights of companies to protect their public-affecting operations.
Unless Facebook is forced to go public, it’s unlikely that it will – not anytime soon.
Facebook doesn’t need more than 499 investors, which is the SEC’s trigger for an IPO.
Goldman Sachs is now Facebook’s private treasure chest.
And you? You are powerful. Sharing. Making the world more transparent one photo, one status update, one Like, one comment at a time.
No matter how brightly clear the world gleams from all of this transparency – this one-way mirror – you will never know nor see the seeing knower.
The one eye has fixed his gaze on thee / and thy world is held in the hands of his privacy.