Before LinkedIn, There Was TheGlobe.com
It was a social networking company that made more money on its first day of trading than most people see in a lifetime.
Then the shares started falling, and as the price dropped, so did the fortunes of its investors and its co-founders.
This was TheGlobe.com.
Stephan Paternot, one of the co-founders, told CNBC Friday there are parallels to LinkedIn, another social networking site whose shares started trading Thursday at a vastly higher price than expected. However, there are also differences.
"Back in the late 1990s, even though TheGlobe had 20 million users...there were only a couple hundred million Internet users," he said. "I doubt that most of the analysts that were recommending our stock had used TheGlobe. Many of them hadn’t used the Internet and weren’t sure if the Internet would even be around."
The Internet startup was founded in 1994, and it went public in 1998. On its first day the shares jumped 1000 percent, "which was surreal," he said. "I didn’t know what was hitting me at 24 years old. It was certainly exciting."
But losing the money was like "death by a thousand cuts," and by 2008 the company was gone.
He said the IPO's broker, Bear Stearns, underpriced the shares to enable its clients to flip the stock for a huge profit.
"Bear Stearns priced us at $8 a share and they had told us two days before the IPO that we had 45 million shares of demand for a three-million share offering. We couldn’t understand why they couldn’t move our price back up," he said.
"Bear Stearns really underpriced us 10 years ago, unfortunately. We did go public, we did raise $30 million but we felt we left $300 million on the table."
Bear Stearns failed in 2008 and was bought by JPMorgan Chase .
Things are different now, however. He said LinkedIn, whose shares opened at $80 Thursday after being priced at $45, wasn't underpriced to the same extent as his late company.
Also, many of the other major dot-com companies "now have significant revenue, and many of them are profitable," Paternot said. "There are over a billion Internet users now. Most people who are investing in Internet companies are actually very familiar with the products that they’re using. You have a much better sense now of what the Internet is and what you’re buying."
Companies don't even need to raise capital through IPOs, thanks to alternate vehicles such as the online marketplace SecondMarket, he added.
Despite his experiences, he still believes in the power of social networking, and the next phase for these companies will be to leverage that power.
"I’d like to thank [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg for validating the entire social network model," he said.