Tuesday Grok: Who bailed out big time just before Facebook tanked?

Tuesday Grok: Who bailed out big time just before Facebook tanked?

Plus, Apple's problems with iCloud, Microsoft's last minute hitch

As Facebook's stock price crashes, not everyone's crying. Some people are in fact just too damn busy counting their blessings, and their giant bags of money to notice.

Business Insider has done a good job identifying those Facebook insiders who made out like bandits by selling just before the company's share price stepped off the cliff and dropped 50 per cent in recent months. In fairness to <i>Business Insider</i> , you need to go there to see the longer list (and the other link to the insiders who sold Zynga just before it dropped 75 per cent).

Here's a sample: According to Business Insider’s editor-in-chief, Henry Blodget, “Peter Thiel a very early Facebook investor, sold 16.8 million shares for $638 million... Mark Pincus the CEO of Zynga, sold 1 million shares for $38 million. Mr Pincus also dumped stock in Zynga in April right before that stock crashed…,” and as for the man himself, “Mark Zuckerberg Facebook's CEO, sold 30.2 million shares for $1.14 billion.”

You will also be relieved to know that the Great Vampire Squid walked away with an absolute bomb — second only to Zuckerberg.

On the one hand, the point of the IPO is to raise as much money as possible, both for the company, and by extension its founding shareholders and pioneer investors, so you could argue in that regard it was stunningly successful.

Then again, that argument takes water quickly when weighed against the medium-term brand damage you take if people think they have been played like a deck of cards.

For instance, here's how one of the most stunningly successful new companies in the world in the last 50 years — a company about the sign on its one billionth user — was described this week by <i>Businessweek</i>.

“The stock has its show-me work cut out for it just a red flags and obstacles keep popping up. On Wednesday, a couple of senior Facebook executives — Katie Mitic, former director of platform marketing, and Ethan Beard, head of platform partnerships — said they’re leaving to pursue other opportunities. In June, the company’s chief technology officer, Bret Taylor, announced his departure. Facebook’s operating margin and sales growth have both declined. And the number of ads it delivered in the U.S. fell 2 per cent last quarter even its daily user count jumped 10 per cent, management revealed on last week’s call.”

iCloud security tested, wanting

Cloud security for consumers has been getting seriously whacked in the media in the last few days. First there was the tale of Mat Honan who saw his digital footprint erased after hackers convinced Apple to hand over his password.

Now, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting a serious flaw in Apple's iCloud security . According to the SMH, the security flaw “allows owners of second-hand Apple devices to be tracked by the original owner, who can also remotely wipe all the data off the device. It comes after similar revelations last month that owners of second-hand iPhones can still access the previous owners' accounts on apps like iMessage and Grindr”.

For the time being Apple is staying silent, refusing the acknowledge the new issue, and not commenting on the earlier issue involving Horan's account. Sooner or later though, and probably sooner, it will have to respond.

Oh dear Microsoft, that's embarrassing

No sooner had Microsoft released the next iteration of its Windows operating system to manufacturing than reports started surfacing that the company might be having trademark issues with Metro. Metro is the name Microsoft is using to describe the game changing overhaul of its user interface. According to The New York Times, Microsoft has confirmed it will now banish the name altogether.

But does it really matter what it's called? It will still work exactly the same. It doesn't really augur well for a precise and thorough approach to launch planning for an upgrade as critical as Windows 8. As portents go, this one bodes slightly ill.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments. Follow him on Twitter @ag_birmingham.

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