Facebook and the Case Against NYSE

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The press covered the decision by Facebook to list on Nasdaq rather than the NYSE (NYSE: NYX) as if a real contest existed between the two exchanges. Facebook could not have done otherwise if it wanted to keep its momentum as the premier tech company of its generation.

Most investors consider the NYSE as the home of old-world public corporations. The perception is true. The large companies traded on the exchange are dominated by banks, big oil companies, older telecom companies, big pharma, the country’s largest retailers, car manufacturers and the ancient conglomerate General Electric (NYSE: GE). Almost all of these firms or their predecessors are decades old. Few have any rapid sales growth prospects. A Facebook listing would be entirely out of place.

Some of the giants listed on Nasdaq are no longer growth stocks, but recently were. These include Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) in particular. But also listed on Nasdaq are Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) — each a primary engine of its sector of the tech world. Most of these companies were formed in the 1980s or later. Many still are run by their founders.

Facebook will, by most estimates, be worth $100 billion when it goes public. That will allow it to challenge Cisco, Amazon and Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) for market cap. It would be impossible for Facebook to be in that kind of honored tech environment if it decided to list on the NYSE.

Facebook’s Nasdaq listing has been a forgone conclusion since it first considered an initial public offering.

Douglas A. McIntyre