In April, Zynga conducted a “secondary stock offering” in which insiders dumped 43 million shares of stock at $12 a share, raking in about $516 million.
Yesterday, four months later, Zynga reported a horrible quarter, and the stock plunged to $3.
In other words, Zynga insiders cashed out at exactly the right time.
In fact, they cashed out in the same quarter in which Zynga imploded.
The quarter had already begun when Zynga insiders shoveled their stock out the door.
By the time the quarter ended, Zynga’s business (and stock price) was in the tank.
Zynga’s April stock offering was managed by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and other premiere Wall Street underwriters. All of the stock sold in the offering was sold by Zynga insiders. None of the cash raised in the offering went to the company.
The Zynga underwriters were paid ~$15 million of fees to arrange this cash-out.
Zynga, the company, also paid $1 million in expenses to facilitate the cash-out (legal fees, private jet rental, etc.)
And, thanks to the offering, the Zynga insiders took $516 million off the table just before the stock crashed.
Which Zynga insiders took advantage of this brilliantly timed sale?
How much did they make?
Here are some of the selling shareholders:
- Marc Pincus, Zynga’s CEO, sold 16.5 million shares for $200 million
- Institutional Venture Partners, a Zynga investor, sold 5.8 million shares for $70 million
- Union Square Ventures, a Zynga investor, sold 5.2 million shares for $62 million
- Google, a Zynga investor, sold 4 million shares for $48 million
- Silver Lake Partners, a Zynga investor, sold 4 million shares for $48 million
- Reid Hoffman, a Zynga investor, sold 688,000 shares for $8.2 million
- David Wehner, Zynga’s CFO, sold 386,000 shares for $4.6 million
- John Schappert, Zynga’s COO, sold 322,000 shares for $3.9 million
- Reginald Davis, Zynga’s general counsel, sold 315,000 shares for $3.8 million
- And so on …
I know many of these folks personally, including at the company’s underwriters, and like and respect them. I think the last thing they would intentionally do is unload stock when they thought it was about to crash—especially when the amount they made in the sale, though huge, is still relative chicken feed for them.
Also, all of these folks only sold a fraction of their holdings, so they’ve been hammered along with the rest of Zynga shareholders by the subsequent collapse.
I also know from personal experience (unfortunately) just how quickly things that seem to be going well can fall apart.
But, all that said, wow.
In three months—based on what happened in the same quarter in which these folks sold—Zynga’s business deteriorated so rapidly that Zynga went from a $12 stock to a $3 stock.
That just doesn’t look very good.
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