Vanished Wealth from Tech Stocks Sucks Some of the Fun From Startups

You know what isn't cool? Losing $7.2 billion.

In happier times.

There is a spectre stalking Silicon Valley, reports the Wall Street Journal. Specifically, it’s the ghost of once-bright hopes for wealth-creating IPOs. Zynga, Groupon, Facebook–none of them turned out quite like everyone hoped, and it is bumming out the rank-and-file in a big way.

The worker bees have lost a lot of the paper wealth that kept them working murderous hours, says the Journal:

“Rank-and-file workers at four of the highest profile Internet companies that began selling shares in the past 16 months have collectively lost about $9 billion on paper since their initial public offerings, according to calculations by compensation researcher Equilar Inc. and The Wall Street Journal.”

Fully $7.2 billion of that lost wealth evaporated from the coffers of Facebook employees. To be clear, these guys aren’t one bad break away from the bread line; the Journal says the average nonexecutive employee still holds an average of $2.5 million in stock and/or stock options. However, Joe Facebook has also lost $2 million since the IPO, which has gotta sting. The average Zynga employee must be even more miserable, having started at $635,000 at the IPO and landed at $132,000. You’d be hard-pressed to afford a decent apartment in deepest Queens on that kind of money.

More importantly, it’s getting harder to recruit for the next would-be superstar company:

“Why would you want to work for next to nothing at the next Facebook when the real Facebook isn’t doing all that well?” said Valerie Frederickson, head of a human-resources consulting firm in Menlo Park, Calif. “People are sometimes dedicating years of their lives to something where they think there’s going to be a big payoff, and then there’s not.”

Despite the hard times, employees aren’t quite leaving in droves yet–but the Journal adds that enterprise startups are having a far easier time retaining their tech talent, rather than hemorrhaging 27-year-olds who want to work at an office where Katy Perry just stops by.

Of course, not every company has faceplanted since its IPO. Besides spamming your inbox, those lucky bastards at LinkedIn are laughing all the way to the bank. According to the Journal: “The average rank-and-file LinkedIn employee holds stock options valued at $922,000, versus $310,000 at the time of the IPO.”

Who knew we’d see a day where LinkedIn employees are the resident ballers? Vanished Wealth from Tech Stocks Sucks Some of the Fun From Startups