The good news is that Facebook (FB) has cancelled plans to create a new C class of shares. Let’s be very clear, Class C shares like these that give a seller, such as CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the ability to sell millions of shares while continuing to control voting rights for Facebook are a genuinely bad idea. What’s the justification for giving someone who sells his stake in the company that power to control the company–and the voting power to make firing him if he messes everything up really really hard. Under the plan that died Zuckerberg could have sold 99% of his shares while still retaining voting control of Facebook.
The bad news is that Zuckerberg will go ahead and sell 35 million to 70 million of his Facebook shares over the next 18 months to fund a charity that he and his wife are creating.
Now a founder selling 35 million to 70 million shares never does much positive for a stock’s price. That’s a lot of stock to put on the market in a relatively short period of time.
The question is, if you’re a Facebook shareholder or thinking of becoming on, how bad will the downward pressure from these sales be?
Fortunately, Facebook trades a lot of shares on the average day–16.4 million on average over the last 3 months. That makes it relatively easy for the market to absorb Zuckerberg’s selling. At the low end of Zuckerberg’s estimates, 35 million shares if just about two days of trading volume.
And Facebook has 2.37 billion shares outstanding, which again works to minimize the effect of the sale of 35 to 70 million shares.
All in all, I’d have to say I’d be happier as a Facebook shareholder if Zuckerberg weren’t selling. But I’m much more relieved that the Class C share plan is now off the table. I think that’s a much more important long-range issue than Zuckerberg’s plans to sell over the next 18 months.
Facebook is a member of my long-term 50 Stocks portfolio.