Our Fifth Nominee for Worst CEO of the Year: Mark Zuckerberg

My praise and contempt for CEO actions are pretty well known around these parts. I've been running a weekly series looking at CEO gaffes for nearly 10 months now (with seemingly endless material, may I add), and recently I've begun highlighting incredible CEOs who deserve a pat on the back. Last year, I even listed my 10 best CEOs of the year and my 10 worst CEOs of the year.

However, this year, we're changing things up a bit, and putting the ball in your court! This year, The Motley Fool community is going to decide who the best CEO of the year is, and which CEO should be banished to a distant island.

Each week over the next four weeks, I'm going to highlight one CEO who's worthy of being called the best CEO of 2012, as well as a CEO who could easily be called the worst. In total, you and your community members will have eight great CEOs and eight terrible ones to choose from when voting commences in November. For reference, here is last week's worst CEO nominee.

In the meantime, I encourage you to get the discussion started on the CEO of the Week board. Although I do have all the nominees handpicked already, these selections are by no means set in stone. If you can offer me your top picks for best and worst CEO, as well as your reasoning, you may just find your nomination in the spotlight.

Without further ado, I give you the fifth nominee for worst CEO of the year: Facebook (Nasdaq: FB  ) CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Why Mark Zuckerberg?

  • A botched IPO: In partial defense of Mark Zuckerberg, the well-documented IPO debacle that led to certain Facebook shareholders being unable to execute buy and sell orders (or not knowing whether or not they held stock in Facebook) for days wasn't entirely his fault. Nasdaq OMX Group (Nasdaq: NDAQ  ) has claimed partial responsibility and set aside a compensatory fund for the wonky trading delays that plagued Facebook's first day of trading. Another blow came when an analyst at Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) , one of Facebook's lead underwriters, lowered his revenue forecast on the company just hours before the IPO. According to The Wall Street Journal, what Zuckerberg is guilty of is attempting to drum up the offering price on his company's IPO less than a day before its debut, and trying to boost the share count by as much as 25% at the behest of underwriters. Simply put, underwriters are there to assess market demand for a stock, and Zuckerberg's insistence aided in the egregious overpricing of Facebook's stock.
  • Heavy insider selling: Although Mark Zuckerburg didn't sell any of his personal holdings in his company's stock, and earlier pledged not to for at least one year, his executive cohorts weren't as kind. According to Facebook's S-1, 57% of the shares being offered on its IPO-day were those of insiders cashing out. By comparison, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) execs dumped just 28% of their shares when the company went public. It might be a stretch to hold Zuckerberg wholly accountable for the actions of his other executives, but if they had ample confidence in his ability to lead, they likely wouldn't be dumping so many of their shares.
  • Lack of a mobile presence: Perhaps the biggest knock against Facebook has been its lack of ability to monetize its burgeoning mobile user base. Having officially crossed the 1 billion user mark, and with about 60% of those users accessing Facebook via their mobile devices (and 102 million access Facebook exclusively through their mobile device), Facebook hasn't done much to establish its mobile business model. Zuckerberg has repeatedly stated that his company is a mobile company, but these words haven't translated into bottom-line results. Yet, travel company TripAdvisor (Nasdaq: TRIP  ) , which has far fewer resources available, has grasped mobile advertising like it was second nature and have seen bottom-line results soar.
  • Hoodie-Gate: Yes, you knew the infamous Zuckerberg hoodie was going to make it onto this list somehow. Visionaries like Steve Jobs rarely donned a suit, so you can't exactly judge a book by its cover, but Zuckerberg's gray t-shirt and notable hoodie have cast a stamp of immaturity across the CEO's that he has yet to shake. In the days leading up to Facebook's IPO, Zuckerberg was often late and brutally underdressed in his efforts to court potential investors at road show events. Furthermore, Zuckerberg has to be one of the most reclusive big-tech CEOs around, period. It took weeks from the time Facebook debuted to the time Zuckerberg actually made an appearance in front of investors to explain the goings-on at his company. By then, the share price damage had already been done.
  • Miserable stock performance: Finally, there's the actual per-share performance of Facebook, which has been downright miserable. A billion users or not, since peaking at $45 per share on the day of its IPO, Facebook shares have shed 56% of their value. In other words, the stock has shed nearly $54 billion in market value since its peak. Where's the dislike button?

Is Mark Zuckerberg the worst CEO of the year? That's going to be up to you and the rest of The Motley Fool community to decide. In the meantime, come back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next four weeks for the latest nominations, and be sure to hit up the CEO of the Week board to voice your opinion to the community.

Will Facebook's fortunes be turned around by moving into mobile? Find out the answer to this question and much more by getting your copy of our latest premium research report on Facebook. Packed with in-depth and unbiased analysis on the opportunities and threats facing Facebook -- and complete with a year of regular updates -- this report will give you the tools necessary to make smart long-term investing decisions. Click here to get your copy.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He loves giving credit when credit is due. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and Google, and has bought calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Facebook, Google, and TripAdvisor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2012, at 8:27 PM, davaidesign wrote:

    1) Mark's job is to get as much money for the company as he can, and he did that, so that's a positive not a negative.

    2) It's a stretch to even say it's a stretch to blame Mark for this.

    3) This is a legitimate one (unlike the rest), and he's acknowledged it.

    4) There was this other guy who always showed up under-dressed. Steve something; ran Apple. Wearing suits would cost Mark his coder cred among his engineers.

    5) Same as with #2, this is just whining. The president has a better shot at controlling gas prices.

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