Former Facebook Employees Say Company Celebrates New Ideas, Not New Wealth

May 18, 2012 3:27pm
ap facebook stock ipo sign thg 120517 wblog Former Facebook Employees Say Company Celebrates New Ideas, Not New Wealth

Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

Facebook’s stock market debut seems to be creating a frenzy everywhere but at Facebook.

Shares were fluctuating between $40 and $42 for most of the day before dipping down to $38. 50, as of 3:20 p.m. ET, since opening Friday morning, amid reports that  Nasdaq was experiencing some technical hiccups. Gizmodo reported shares were trading at a record-breaking 2.7 million per second within the first 30 seconds of trading.

But after founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and a throng of cheering employees rang the Nasdaq opening bell from the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., at 9:30 a.m. ET Friday, the campus became a ghost town.

“Nightline” anchor Bill Weir talked with Justin Mitchell, a Facebook engineer, and Donna Gutman, who worked in Facebook’s user operations, in New York City’s Times Square shortly after trading began. Both said they had been with the company for more than  four years but  had recently quit, taking stock options with them.

On Thursday night, Facebook priced its initial public offering  at $38 a share, selling $16 billion worth in equity and valuing the company at $104 billion. It’s the largest tech IPO of all time.

All Facebook employees are stock holders, Mitchell told Weir. So why isn’t he out buying a Ferrari?

“It’s not the company culture to go out and celebrate this type of stuff,” Mitchell said. “The culture of the company is very much of not showing off money, not being ostentatious but instead, really just making good products, and that comes from the top.”

One of the big questions is, now that Facebook has gone public, will it have to  tailor user experience to meet shareholders’ expectations. But Mitchell said he thought Facebook’s IPO filing would have little effect on how it does business.

“My hunch is that it’s not going to change the company culture that much,” he said. “Once we filed for the IPO people put up signs that said, ‘Stay focused, Keep shipping.’ I think it’s that type of mentality that you’ll see continue on in the future.”

Last night, Facebook celebrated its  newfound wealth with a wild bash at company headquarters that only Facebook could throw — a “Hackathon,” an all-night, a code-writing “rager,” where Facebook employees worked on their own special projects until the morning light. They do one every couple of months, according to the company’s blog. Those projects are what Facebook deems important, Gutman said.

“I think that the company needs to keep doing what its doing and the work people did last night shows that’s what people are focused on,” Gutman said.

Watch “Nightline” anchor Bill Weir’s full story on the Facebook IPO on “Nightline” TONIGHT at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT

ABC News’ Susanna Kim and Alex Stone contributed to this report

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