FB' s day of reckoning: Blip or sign of broader turn?
New York: Facebook faced a day of reckoning as its shares plunged in the biggest one-day drop in stock-market history.
The 19 per-cent drop vaporized USD 119 billion of the company's stock-market value; CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth fall by roughly USD 16 billion as a result. It was Facebook's worst trading day since going public in 2012; the collapse eclipsed Intel's decline of USD 91 billion in September 2000, without adjusting for inflation.
The plunge followed Facebook's warning late Wednesday that its revenue growth will slow down significantly for at least the remainder of the year and that expenses will continue to skyrocket.
In a sign of just how bullish investor expectations were, though, the collapse merely returned Facebook shares to a level last seen in early May. At that point, the stock was still recovering from an earlier battering over its big privacy scandal, in which a political consulting firm with ties to President Donald Trump improperly accessed the data of tens millions of Facebook users. Now come the big questions: Is this a temporary setback, or the start of a painful new road for the giant social network? And does a similar comeuppance await other high-flying technology behemoths? Both the slower growth forecast and heavier spending reflect problems largely of Facebook's own making.
New European privacy rules, inspired in part by Facebook's relentless mining of its own users' data, are starting to hamper the company's advertising business. And the increased spending aims, among other things, to prevent a replay of the fake news and propaganda that Russian agents unleashed on an unguarded Facebook in an attempt to sway the 2016 presidential election.
Zuckerberg even noted during a call with analysts that "we're investing so much in security that it will significantly impact our profitability." Overall, technology giants - Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon and others - have enjoyed almost unprecedented growth in revenue and stock price for years. They have seemed unstoppable, even in the face of regulatory pressure, user dissatisfaction and broader existential questions about their impact on society. Technology companies account for six of the 10 biggest companies in the S&P 500 Index.