Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Facebook IPO Fiasco

The long-awaited and much-hyped Facebook IPO has turned into something of a fiasco.  Revelations have emerged about possible insider malfeasance from the share underwriter Morgan Stanley and their last-minute revisions to the financial outlook of Facebook which left some main street investors out of luck and holding some very expensive shares.  Lawsuits have been filed so the matter will be taken up by the courts although the market is rendering some early judgment as the stock price has fallen from its initial $38 to under $30. 

My original assessment of Facebook was based on the horoscope of the IPO and so far that has been wide of the mark.  One of the difficulties in analyzing first trade charts is that there is very little information to work with in the initial stages.  It's a bit like trying to make predictions for a new-born baby in the first days and weeks of life.  Transits may be a part of the overall equation, but the natal chart is still very strong and therefore its aspects and placements may be disproportionately resonating through the first phase of life. This may also be the case with the Facebook IPO horoscope.  It seems as if some of those difficult natal patterns -- especially the very close Venus-Saturn aspect --  are damaging the share price in these initial stages regardless of some favourable Jupiter transits that may be in play.

While useful, the IPO horoscope would not necessarily show the emerging controversy surrounding Facebook and insider trading.  For that, it may be useful to examine an older and more established horoscope for Facebook, namely the incorporation chart of 29 July 2004.  Although we don't know the exact time that Facebook was incorporated, this chart nonetheless reveals some interesting  perspectives on the public offering of 18 May.   Amazingly, we see Venus and Saturn front and center once again.  Natal Venus (28 Taurus ) was in a close aspect to transiting Saturn at the time of the IPO.  As I have noted previously, the Venus-Saturn combination is a perfect illustration of the desire to harness or adapt (Saturn) friendship (Venus) for instrumental or financial ends.  A Venus-Saturn combination is therefore a nice planetary picture for an IPO of a company that is "selling" its users' friendships to advertisers.

We can see that transiting Venus was also just a stone's throw away in the first degree of Gemini so it had the effect of highlighting the natal Venus placement.  Although the fifth house aspect is not a full strength one according to Vedic aspecting rules, the degreewise aspect is so tight, that even a partial strength trine aspect is going to have some negative effects.  The bad news is that Saturn is moving slowly here ahead of its direct station on 25 June.  It will station in an exact trine aspect to Venus.  Saturn's direct station at 28 Virgo will also be in tight minor aspect to Mars (28 Cancer) so this is another reason for Facebook's troubles at this time.  A little bit of Saturn can be a good thing, but this extended transit around its station produces too much Saturnian energy and is not favourable.   And if we take the Sagittarius Moon as the 1st house (Chandra Lagna), then we can see that Saturn will be stationing in the 10th house in Virgo.  The 10th house represents public acclaim and achievement, so the Saturn influence here is suggestive of public difficulty and damage to its status.

We can also see that Facebook would likely be in the news now due to the simultaneous transits to the Sun by Pluto and Uranus.  The Sun represents public projection and leadership and when it is activated by transits from such distant, slow moving planets, the chances of some kind of higher profile is likely.  Facebook has definitely been all over the news in the past month, both in the run-up to the IPO and then the scandal ridden aftermath. 

One key reason why the IPO ended in scandal and recrimination is due to the Neptune influence on this chart.  Neptune is in opposition aspect to Mercury, the planet of trading and communication.  Since Neptune symbolizes deceit and distortions when in hard aspect, this Neptune-Mercury aspect is a classic signature for an event that involves deception and confusion.  Underwriter Morgan Stanley took the unprecedented step of reducing its growth estimates to insider clients just hours before the IPO which left small investors holding the bag.   The Nasdaq also bungled the opening as it couldn't handle the trading volume but refused to admit its limitations.  The confusion was so pronounced that some traders did not know if their trades had been executed or not for almost a week after the 18 May launch.  The whole situation created an atmosphere of distrust and discord between Wall Street and the investing public.  The bad news here is that Neptune will remain opposite Mercury for the rest of 2012 and well into 2013.  This could mean that Facebook will have transparency issues around its financial dealings so the whiff of scandal may linger for some time to come.

Even with the unknown time, the incorporation chart is likely running the Venus dasha.  Using the noon default time, the Venus dasha was probably in effect at the time of incorporation and is still running now.  Venus is strong in this chart by virtue of its placement in its own sign of Taurus.  Venus is also further strengthened by the placement of Jupiter in its nakshatra of Purva Phalguni.  Clearly, Facebook has been a phenomenally successful company.  However, Pluto's close opposition to Pluto hints at the kind of scenario that erupted around the IPO.  Pluto is the planet of power and manipulation and is associated with large corporations.  Its opposition aspect can mean that the exercising of power and behind the scenes manipulation plays a stronger role in daily affairs, especially when planets are afflicted by transits.   Given Saturn extended aspect with Venus here, it is quite likely that this darker Plutonian side of the Facebook incorporation chart is playing out. 

I would therefore expect the intense financial scrutiny on Facebook to continue at least until Saturn turns direct on 25 June.  Once it begins to move away from its aspect with Venus, there may be more clarity brought to this situation.  It also suggests that Facebook's share price may stand a better chance of rebounding once Saturn moves away.  While there is only an indirect relationship between the incorporation chart and the share price, there should nonetheless be some correlation there.  It does suggest, however, that Facebook may have some tough times for the next month until Saturn goes direct.  But the  ongoing influence of Neptune into 2013 may mean that questions about transparency will act as a drag on share price for a while yet.