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Apple co-founder gives Facebook a warning

May 15 2012 08:43

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Sydney - Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has warned Mark Zuckerberg about the dangers of going public as Facebook counts down to its eagerly awaited share offering.

The world's leading social network is expected to start trading on the tech-heavy Nasdaq on Friday, although the timetable has not been confirmed.

It set a price range of $28 to $35 for its shares, which would value the firm at between $70bn and $87.5bn, although the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday it has since been bumped up to $34 to $38 per share.

Apple went public in 1980 and Wozniak, who is visiting Australia, said being exposed to the demands of shareholders was a tough lesson.

At the mercy of shareholders

"All of a sudden you have shareholders that are directing the company and demanding answers and getting upset if things aren't going as well as they hoped," he told the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday.

"Once you go post-IPO, all of a sudden Mark Zuckerberg can be more at the mercy of the owners.

"That is something to worry about and something they have to watch out for, but I think he has got a strong enough focus to continue on as he has been going, and I really hope it goes well for them."

Facebook's debut on Wall Street will make chief executive Zuckerberg, who turned 28 on Monday, a multi-billionaire with firm control of the company.

After the initial public offering, he will own 57.3% of the Silicon Valley firm in a stake valued at least $15bn based on how shares are expected to perform.

But there are dissenting voices about the listing.

Some analysts fear Zuckerberg will have to focus more on the bottom line than his vision that has made the company so influential, and Wozniak admitted some of his happiest times were before Apple went public.

He told the newspaper that back then he and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs made decisions based purely on the motivation of making the best possible product, rather than impressing stakeholders.

Zuckerberg ‘idealistic’

Nevertheless, Wozniak said he would love to own shares in Facebook.

"I admire Mark Zuckerberg so much," he said.

"I think he is still able to think like a young idealistic person and is making decisions about what he thinks is right and wrong.

"He is genuinely more focused on openness and what people are getting from using Facebook, than he is on the money.

"It is really obvious for someone like me to look and see that."
apple  |  facebook  |  mark zuckerberg  |  steve wozniak
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