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Robert Greifeld

Facebook’s market debut on May 18 was supposed to be a triumph for Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld, said Jenny Strasburg in The Wall Street Journal. It had been a coup for Nasdaq to beat the New York Stock Exchange in landing the social network, and Greifeld flew to Silicon Valley to help ring the opening bell on the biggest IPO in the exchange’s history. But what came next was a disaster. Nasdaq’s systems were overwhelmed by demand, and trading glitches and delays sent the stock into a tailspin. Worse still, as the drama unfolded, Greifeld couldn’t be reached. Though he knew there were problems, he boarded a noon flight from California to New York, and he says his business-class phone didn’t work. With his exchange melting down, Greifeld was “marooned” in the air for most of the trading day.

Greifeld’s offer to pay investors some $40 million for their losses hasn’t redeemed Nasdaq or his leadership, said Nathaniel Popper in The New York Times. The debacle is being blamed for further eroding investors’ confidence in Wall Street, and rival exchanges have said that parts of Nasdaq’s proposal for compensating traders might be illegal. There’s a lot of “emotion and commentary in the air,” Greifeld said. “It’s obviously not a good situation.”

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