Barbara Jacobs, 51, is an assistant director for corporation finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
She is one tough, sceptical lady.
She’s also the star of a long Bloomberg News feature, published late last night and written by Linda Sandler, Brian Womack and Douglas MacMillan, about how the SEC pestered Facebook into deeply revising its public filings before its May 18 IPO earlier this year.
The story reveals that it was Jacobs’ eight-person team at the SEC that pushed a resistant Facebook into…
- Dropping a reference to a non-existent Nielsen study about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising.
- Admitting that it had double-counted some of its mobile users.
- recognising how much its business depended on Zynga and other social games.
- recognising that it competed with Zynga for user attention.
- Including revenue-per-user metrics instead of just overall user growth.
- And, most importantly: Explaining to potential investors that Facebook’s increasing number of mobile-only users do not monetise as well as desktop only users.
Jacobs and her team were also responsible for insisting that Groupon quit using deceptive financial metrics to call itself profitable before its own IPO.The SEC gets beat up all the time for how it missed Madoff and the mortgage crisis.
This time, though, the SEC, thanks to Jacobs and her team, deserve credit for making a big stink — one that even the analysts at Facebook’s own IPO underwriters had to eventually pay attention to, downgrading the stock and sending deep negative signals into the market that can only have helped keep people away.
So, who is Jacobs?
In an age of personal branding on fancy LinkedIn profiles and vanity domains, it’s remarkably difficult to find out much about this diligent government worker with a Google search. It’s refreshing, in a way.
For someone keenly aware of the world of social media, she’s not much of an over-sharer. You get this image of a tough cop who is the kind who would say, “just doing my job, ma’am.”
She is, or has been, a professor at the Practising Law Institute, however. There she teaches classes titled things like “How to Prepare for the Upcoming Proxy Season (2nd Annual)”
PLI does have this bio for her. It’s actually rather impressive:
Ms. Jacobs has been an Assistant Director for the Division of Corporation Finance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission since September 2000. Prior to this time, she served as Deputy Chief of the Office of Small Business (1996-2000) and Chief of the Office of Disclosure Policy (1994-1996) for the Division. She also held the positions of Deputy Chief (1992-1993) and Special Counsel (1989-1992). Among other matters, Ms. Jacobs drafted the rules to implement the operational phase of the Commission’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (“EDGAR”) system. She also drafted rules to amend Rule 504 of Regulation D to address micro cap fraud (February 1999), proposed rules to permit certain smaller companies to price securities on a delayed basis (February 1997), and drafted interpretations on the use of electronic media for dissemination purposes (October 1995). From 1997-1999, Ms. Jacobs organised and spoke at SEC Small Business Town Hall Meetings across the country and annual SEC Government Business Forums.
Ms. Jacobs received an A.B. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, a J.D. from the University of San Francisco, and an L.L.M. in Securities Regulation from Georgetown Law centre. From 2001-2004, Ms. Jacobs was an adjunct professor in the L.L.M. program at Georgetown where she co-taught “Disclosure Under the Federal Securities Laws.”