Now prospective Facebook investors know how many users of the social networking service feel -- unappreciated and unimportant.
Facebook, of course, is planning to go public in a few weeks, which means Wall Street investors want to meet with the company's top executives to discuss its plans and prospects.
But Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was nowhere to be found last week when analysts and bankers were given the first of many briefings in preparation for an initial public offering that could come in May.
Zuckerberg is hardly the first Silicon Valley CEO to treat the Wall Street suits with disdain -- Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in particular had little time or sentiment for shareholders -- but his no-show is ruffling some pinstriped feathers.
"We don't think that he should be hiding from the investors," said Carin Zelenko, the director of the capital strategies department for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters."He wants investors to put their money behind him, with the confidence in him personally, as the person who built this company and who's going to lead it and control it. He should be accountable to those people who are investing."
I wonder how Jobs would have responded to a suggestion that he "should be accountable" to investors. I suspect his response would have melted some faces.
Here's another irate prospective investor, courtesy of Reuters:
"Investors are crazy to want to get in bed with a company where the guy who controls it doesn't even pretend to care about the rest of the shareholders," said Greg Taxin of activist investment firm Spotlight Advisors, who will not buy shares. "That seems like a recipe for disaster."
Indeed! Look at what happened with Apple and its screw-the-shareholders CEO. It was like the Titanic! Well, at least if the Titanic ended up being the most valuable public company in the world.
Seriously, for all his vaunted brilliance and charisma, Zuckerberg strikes me from afar as a fairly arrogant young man. I think Facebook's cavalier approach to privacy bears this out.
But in this particular case, I don't blame him. I think a little distance from prospective investors is a good thing, especially when some of them clearly want Zuck to act as if he's their "employee."
I'm with Business Insider's Henry Blodget on this. He wrote, "Managers who become beholden to public-market shareholders and obsessed with short-term stock performance often cut corners, under-invest in long-term projects, or become so desperate to meet near-term targets that they destroy the company's innovation and culture."
They also get panicked or prodded into making rash decisions, which I'm thinking might have been the case with HP's Leo Apotheker last year when, after several rough quarters, the CEO announced that the world's largest computer manufacturer was getting out of the PC business. Shares dropped about 20% and Apotheker was out of a job weeks later.
I'd say Zuckerberg has decided early on that he will set the terms of his relationship with shareholders. As well he should. Because skin in the game doesn't necessarily translate into wisdom or business acumen.
The smartest investors find the right company and team and bet their money on them. The worst ones try to run the show, even if they don't really understand it.