Goldman Sachs is the Rick Santorum of the Facebook IPO

Traders gather at the Goldman Sachs post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, January 18, 2012. Goldman Sachs Group Inc's fourth-quarter profit fell 56 percent as trading and investment banking revenue plunged, but the bank managed to beat analysts' expectations through cost cutting and lower taxes. Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Legendarily sleazy investment bank relegated to third 'co-lead' underwriter

Today, of course, is the day that will change the world forever, assuming the rumors that social networking giant Facebook will file for its long-awaited and excruciatingly hyped initial public offering.

I'm on record many times as being a Facebook skeptic, and I think the IPO is big trouble for overeager and easily manipulated investors who will drive up share price on the first day of trading, only to be left standing briefly on air, like Wile E. Coyote, gazing down at the huge abyss that is their destination once the circus leaves town.

But there's one thing about Facebook's offering that provides me great pleasure, and that is watching the company disrespect sleazy investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Facebook has announced that its lead underwriter will be not Goldman Sachs, which usually is able to bully its way to the front of the IPO underwriting line, but hated rival Morgan Stanley.

Yes, it is Morgan Stanley's name that will appear in the coveted and lucrative "lead left" position in Facebook's world-changing prospectus, which we might see later Wednesday.

But at least that leaves Goldman with the partially face-saving "second co-lead" slot. Oh, wait; it appears that role has been awarded to JPMorgan Chase, the New York Times reports.

Sadly, Goldman has been relegated to the less-than-coveted "third co-lead," which is the equivalent of a narcissistic actor who considers himself Hollywood's biggest draw being told he gets the part of the sympathetic friend who is killed early in Act 3.

Or maybe it's more like being former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who finished third in Tuesday's key Florida GOP presidential primary. I'll have to research Goldman's position regarding the banning of condoms to see if this analogy holds up.

So what gives? According to the NYT, Goldman's relationship with Facebook "has been strained":

The firm, which led a $1.5 billion investment in the social network in January 2011, was privately criticized by Facebook for allegedly botching the private placement, after word of the deal was reported by DealBook, people with knowledge of the matter have said. The news coverage drew the scrutiny of regulators, eventually leading Goldman to limit its offering to its foreign private wealth clients. The development was seen as an embarrassment for the bank and frustrated Facebook’s management team, which has tried to keep its affairs private, these people said.

I remember that! Goldman really bungled it, and Facebook executives were pissed. If Goldman Sachs were an animal, Mark Zuckerberg would have killed it with his bare hands and then prepared a sumptuous meal for himself and maybe Peter Thiel.

Granted, this recent turn of events hardly will be the ruin of Goldman Sachs -- the company's going to make plenty of money on Facebook's IPO -- but we at least can savor the public humiliation. Because it couldn't happen to a more deserving company.

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