Facebook IPO Day: The Scene At NASDAQ in NYC’s Times Square [TCTV]

In case there was any confusion after Facebook’s eight years in business and its recent geographic expansions, it was cleared up today: Facebook’s home and heart lies in Silicon Valley.

TechCrunch TV saw that first-hand this morning at NASDAQ’s Marketsite in New York City’s Times Square. We were on hand there for the ringing of the NASDAQ opening bell, but as expected, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took advantage of the option to ring it remotely from his company’s Menlo Park, California headquarters.

NASDAQ is a fully digital stock exchange, unlike for example the New York Stock Exchange, so it doesn’t have a physical trading floor and the bell-ringing is really just a ceremonial gesture. Nevertheless, there were throngs of reporters, some die-hard Facebook fans, and a few bewildered-looking tourists gathered in Times Square around the NASDAQ Marketsite to see the action.

An Eerily Quiet Times Square

But as you can see in the video embedded above, that “action” was negligible. NASDAQ played a short, two- to three-minute simulcast of Zuckerberg before and during the ringing of the bell on massive television screens, but there was no sound from the event piped into Times Square — so for the duration of the broadcast the crowd fell eerily silent, just watching the screen together. There was a brief countdown shown, but no one called out the numbers or anything. New Year’s Eve it was not.

My colleague Anthony Ha found the scene at Facebook’s headquarters this morning to be “underwhelming,” but from where I stood it looked like a downright rager compared to the environment in NYC. In fact, I’m pretty sure this was one of the only occasions I’ll be able to say with near certainty that Menlo Park, California was a louder and more bustling place than Times Square.

The Power Shift From Wall Street To Silicon Valley?

Someone could easily see the whole event as a let down, but after thinking about it a bit I actually feel like it was the opposite. The scene at NASDAQ today strikes me as just the latest sign of an ongoing shift in power from the finance industry to the technology industry — from the proverbial Wall Street to the proverbial Silicon Valley.

Now, I don’t mean that literally, of course. We all live digitally these days, so power is by no means not actually moving geographically from East to West (or even being centered in the United States at all.) But it is a palpable shift in mentality. So for those of us who work and live in and around the tech industry, the silence in Times Square this morning represents something very exciting indeed.


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