"If we give people control over what they share, they will want to share more. If people share more, the world will become more open and connected. And a world that's more open and connected is a better world. These are still our core principles today."
Apparently when Mr. Zuckerberg advocated for openness and sharing, he didn't count Facebook in that number. Recent reports from The New York Times outline how Facebook has partnered with Goldman Sachs to market a financial product intending to raise capital for Facebook. Here's the rub, since Goldman is marketing the product it is made to look like Goldman is a single investor, instead of counting all those individuals that got this exclusive offer. Why do that? Because if you have more then 499 investors you have to disclose your financial results. I guess sharing isn't so grand but control is.
So let's consider some obvious parts to this story. First, Mr. Zuckerberg is a hypocrite. He wants to catalog your information and make money off of it, but he really likes to have control and isn't big into sharing how is company is really doing. Second, while this may not be strictly illegal, it would certainly appear to violate the spirit, if not the letter of the law. Did Goldman Sachs really learn so little during the financial crisis?
The SEC is investigating this activity, so we will see what happens with that. I find it incredulous that a finance firm would think this is good business so soon after the crisis. Maybe the problem was so many people got bailed out that lessons went unlearned. Maybe, as Paul Krugman often say, when it comes to high finance, heads they win, tails we lose.
I take some solace in the idea that Facebook probably won't be here in 2036, though I fear populist narcissism and corporate obliqueness will.