MENLO PARK, Calif. — In Silicon Valley, where sudden wealth is hardly something new and CEOs favor hoodies over bespoke blazers, Facebook’s IPO on Friday didn’t bring everyday life to a halt.
The morning began with a ceremony attended by a few dozen people in a courtyard in the center of campus known as Hack Square. Mark Zuckerberg rang the opening bell to start the Nasdaq Stock Market’s daily trading as chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, Nasdaq executives and other employees looked on.
Afterward, employees tried to get back to business as usual. That is, building a company under immense pressure to meet shareholders’ expectations. To remind everyone not to get caught up in the hoopla, Facebook’s 2,000 employees were given t-shirts that read “Stay focused & keep hacking.”
As is standard at large tech companies in Silicon Valley, employees were told not to talk to the press.
In the parking lot, venture capitalist Mark Siegel had come down to take a longing look at one that got away. Like many of his fellow technology startup investors with offices a short drive from Facebook on Silicon Valley’s famed Sand Hill Road, Siegel said he had chances to back Facebook early on but didn’t.
He said at the time, when competing social networks like Friendster and MySpace still had clout, it wasn’t clear that Facebook would come out on top.
“In hindsight, any price would have been a good price to pay,” said Siegel, a managing director at Menlo Ventures.
To avoid a similar fate in the future, Siegel’s firm is invested heavily in Internet and social media companies, including popular blogging service Tumblr.
Ann House, 49, an education researcher at a nearby nonprofit, said the IPO would obviously mean more rich people in the area, but she’s been pleasantly surprised so far that the company’s recent move to its new headquarters hasn’t yet led to a big uptick in street traffic.
Though not a heavy Facebook user, she said the ads on the social network’s site have started to annoy her more. She expects the IPO won’t help.
“It probably means there’s going to be more advertising on the site, so I’ll use it less,” she said.
Claire Bonnar, 22, of Pacifica became a teenager shortly before Facebook first went online, but she doesn’t count herself among the Facebook generation. She has an account, but she said she only logs on once every few months. She said she communicates with her friends by text message and phone to avoid the headaches she witnessed among former co-workers who were heavy users.
“They’d always be in each others’ business,” she said. “I don’t want that kind of drama.”