Walter Lamberson


Facebook Doesn't Need Your Money; Invest in Africa Instead

Facebook may be the rage, but a more productive investment awaits abroad, where demand for capital is far higher.

Today, Facebook will launch the largest initial public offering in history. Over the course of a few minutes, an eager public will invest $16 billion in Facebook’s 3,000-odd employees. Here in Nairobi, Kenya, where I live, the eye-popping figures produce passive astonishment: A single company will absorb the rough equivalent of half a year’s GDP for Kenya’s 40 million citizens.

Facebook will invest some of its windfall to create growth for its shareholders. But will the investment be productive? Facebook is being forced public by SEC regulations and the desire of some early investors to cash out; founder Mark Zuckerberg has made clear his company doesn’t need the cash. As such, financing growth for Facebook probably means investing in some combination of server racks in Oregon, lobbyists in Washington, and ergonomic keyboards, massage tables, and sushi in the California headquarters.

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