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Facebook IPO underwhelms Web, too

Doug Gross, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Facebook stock closed nearly where it opened Friday
  • NEW: On rival Twitter, some smirked at lack of a price jump
  • Online, almost every financial or tech expert has an opinion
  • Facebook on Thursday afternoon set its initial share price at $38

(CNN) -- As the stock market opened Friday with a ring of the bell by Mark Zuckerberg, all eyes were on Facebook -- the social media Megalodon he nursed from a dorm-room project to one of Wall Street's hottest prospects ever.

Facebook, or "FB" as it's now known to investors, may have made amateur analysts on the Web go wild. But on the Nasdaq, it was a less exciting ride -- ending the day at a price pretty much exactly where it began.

Friends may be priceless. But 'friending' both started and ended the day at just over $38 a share.

Facebook's was the biggest opening ever for a tech company and the third-largest IPO in U.S. history, behind only Visa and General Motors.

On the Web, reactions ran the gamut from deliriously hopeful to harshly negative for the social-media giant's Wall Street potential.

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"A $104 billion market capitalization puts Facebook at more than 100 times its trailing earnings," wrote John Constine and Kim-Mai Cutler for technology blog TechCrunch. "That's a big multiple to live up to, and it will likely need to add bold new revenue streams to justify the mammoth valuation."

And it wasn't just the pros weighing in. In fact, it seemed like everyone on the Internet had an opinion.

Business Insider posted a poll (obviously not scientific) asking readers where they thought the $38 stock would be by the end of the day Friday.

Early Friday, a pessimistic 15% said under $35. But the biggest cluster of respondents had guessed somewhere between $40 and 55. (15% said $40 to 45, another 13% said $45 to 50 and, yes, yet another 12% said $50-55).

A hopeful 10% predicted the stock would skyrocket at otherworldly levels, winding up over $90 a share.

Facebook's new billionaires

Results were similar on another site that sprung up, Facebook IPO Day Closing Price. Its graph showed the biggest number of predictions clustering around what ultimately would be an overly optimistic $50 mark.

On rival network Twitter, many observers seemed to be rooting against Facebook and its early investors, finding a measure of glee in the fact that the price didn't skyrocket as some had predicted.

"Facebook stock has already started to tank," wrote user Jen Misty (yes, with a healthy dose of hyperbole). "In my best Nelson voice from Simpsons -- "HA! HA!"

There was this swipe at youthful startup culture from tweeter Ross Heart: "Harder? Keeping $FB over 38 or trying to get hired at Facebook being over 38?"

And then there was this sports metaphor, which referenced a certain polarizing NBA star.

"Rooting against Facebook stock price > [is greater than] rooting against LeBron," wrote a user named Jay Kang.

More sober-minded watchers, however, noted that on Wall Street, when an opening stock sticks close to where it started, it means it was probably priced correctly to begin with.

"Few hours into trading and Facebook's stocks maintain a $40 value," wrote Giuseppe D'Antonio. "No drop, no frenzy behaviour, no wild fluctuations. Serious matter!"

While opinions in the business and tech communities have differed on whether the massive social network is a good investment, analysts have largely been bullish on the stock. There's been heavy demand, leading Facebook on Wednesday to announce it will sell about 25% more shares than it had originally planned, bringing its total to 421 million shares.

At CNN content partner Mashable, a blog that got its start focusing exclusively on social media and saw its popularity rise as Facebook's did, the staff geared up by creating an IPO-inspired playlist on music site Spotify (which, perhaps not coincidentally, is accessible only through a Facebook account).

Making the list? "Mo Money, Mo Problems," by The Notorious B.I.G., "Rich" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs," "Money (That's What I Want) by Barrett Strong and "If I Had $1,000,000" by Barenaked Ladies, among others.

CNNMoney and CNN's Brandon Griggs contributed to this report.

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