If there’s one thing that’s truly refreshing about Chinese tech startups, it’s the fact that the CEOs there aren’t afraid to sound off like teenage boys when they feel like they’ve been wronged. It’s a nice reprise from the overly-sanitized, politically-correct, speak-words-without-actually-saying-anything, VOICE-OF-GOD tone that American CEOs have mastered.
Case in point, the CEO of E-Commerce China Dangdang, Inc. (NYSE:DANG), Guoqing Li, railed publicly against Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) over the weekend after watching the Dangdang shares he sold at $16 more than double to $33 in just over a month of trading on the NYSE. The CEO’s fictional “rock song” lyrics don’t pull any punches:
“Lyrics for a rock song: You (Morgan Stanley) gave out a valuation of 1-6 billion, but in Hong Kong the opening statements stated only 0.78 billion, stop f**king acting,” TechRice quotes Mr. Li as writing in his microblog account on the Twitter-like service Sina Weibo. “You f**kers knew first day of launch that valuation would be 2 billion, but you still priced USD 16 per share, which comes to 1.1 billion. My CFO was in panic mode, I held back a breath and silently cursed you motherf**kers.”
“I regret not giving the job to Goldman Sachs,” Mr. Li went on in response to a microblogger identified as a Morgan Stanley employee. “I am here openly criticizing investment banks, criticizing Morgan Stanley, what, Morgan Stanley can’t be criticized? Not be cursed? You foreigners’ flunky!”
Mishi fired back on the Twitter-like microblog platform, Sina Weibo, saying Mr. Li possesses an “IQ so low you don’t even understand the basic principles of being human.”
Morgan Stanley quickly issued a rebuke: “These comments are offensive, highly unprofessional and do not reflect industry practices. We condemn such behavior that can risk damaging a company’s brand and reputation,” the bank said in an official statement.
Now that the IPO silent period is over, it seems the kid gloves have come off. It could be a risky bit of marketing on the part of Mr. Li, or he might genuinely be miffed that he sold a huge stake in his own company for far too little. My guess? It’s a bit of both.
Mr. Li’s smart enough to know that an under-priced IPO can lead to a whole lot of positive PR, but its got to be frustrating watching your shares skyrocket and knowing that you’ve missed out on a few hundred million dollars in your pocket. I think I’d be doing some cursing, too. I just might not have made it public.