Friday 23 March 2018

Facebook's stock flotation to spark staff 'brain drain'

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

MANAGERS at Facebook in Dublin and around the world are bracing themselves for a "brain drain" of top talent after the company goes public.

The social-networking giant filed papers to float on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month, with trading expected to commence in May.

The initial public offering, which is expected to value the company at up to $100bn, will leave more than one-third of the Dublin staff with share options valued at more than €100,000.

Many of those options are wrapped up in restricted stock units that have a vesting period from when an employee started working for Facebook but for those who joined the company early, the vesting period will be coming to an end this year.

With dozens of Dublin staff sitting on small fortunes, management are planning for an exodus of experienced employees over the next year and are already preparing to fill the newly vacant roles as they arise, as well as making do with smaller teams while the vacancies are filled.

Google faced a similar problem in 2004 when it went public.

In Silicon Valley there is a tradition of staff cashing in on their shares and leaving to either start their own company or even go into angel investing themselves. The Irish staff are expected to follow a similar path.

Mark Zuckerberg's has become the face of the new internet boom which has already seen a number of high- profile flotations in the past year.


Professional networking site LinkedIn more than doubled in value on its first day's trading last May, while voucher site GroupOn rocketed on its opening day but has since fallen back significantly. The same has happened to a number of other recent tech flotations.

The Facebook IPO, however, will be far bigger than any of the technology IPOs that have preceded it, and will give Mr Zuckerberg a fortune worth up to $28bn as well as creating hundreds of millionaires who either joined, or invested in, the company early on.

Famously, the decorator who painted the company's first office is sitting on a stake worth an estimated $200m.

Irish Independent

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