Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has hit Australian shores – and the iconic techie has wasted no time in commenting on the upcoming Facebook initial public offering, saying he intends to buy shares no matter the cost.
The move comes as new reports confirmed Facebook would go ahead and float its stock on the Nasdaq later this week, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg making the final rounds of his investor presentation.
During a presentation made in Perth, Wozniak said he would consider buying Facebook shares at any price.
“I would invest in Facebook,” he told Bloomberg. “I don’t care what the opening price is.”
But Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs in the late 1970s and later took a backseat at the company, continued in his praise for Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, saying he sees some of himself in the 27-year-old chief executive.
“I was thankful to have a partnership with Steve Jobs and I see Mark Zuckerberg closer to the combination of us…When he speaks he speaks with a lot of idealism for the users and a lot of good ideas for the product overall.”
He also commented he was “glad they held out so long” with regard to the IPO, as investors have been calling for Facebook to list for years. But Wozniak says it was good to wait, commenting that “you don’t have to think that your only goal can be an IPO”.
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Wozniak said Zuckerberg will immediately come under pressure from shareholders, which could change the company’s focus, and added that some of his happiest times were spent working with Steve Jobs before Apple became larger and received investment.
“That is something to worry about and something they have to watch out for; but I think he has got a strong enough focus to continue on as he has been going, and I really hope it goes well for them.”
“I think [Zuckerberg] is still able to think like a young idealistic person and is making decisions about what he thinks is right and wrong. He is genuinely more focused on openness and what people are getting from using Facebook, than he is on the money.”
The talk of the Facebook IPO comes as a new report from TechCrunch confirms the float will indeed go ahead on Friday, although Zuckerberg won’t be there to ring the bell – he’ll be doing so from the company’s Menlo Park headquarters.
It also reports the company will stop taking orders for shares tomorrow, and that it will be oversubscribed.
Facebook has filed to show it will trade on the exchange with the letters “FB”, while the report suggests the company’s price range for its shares have increased to between $34-38 billion, which would provide the company with a valuation of anywhere between $US92-103 billion.
The $US100 billion figure has been cited for months as speculation grew about the float.
But there are still many who believe that figure is too large. Over the weekend, a Bloomberg survey of 1,253 investors, analysts and traders found 79% believe Facebook is not worth the $US96 billion price tag.
Some investors have also expressed their concerns the company would not be able to sustain its growth and that its popularity could decline.