Betabeat has the distinct pleasure of working a few blocks from the NASDAQ MarketSite, so we decided to venture over and see what the scene looked like on the day of the biggest-ever tech IPO. We arrived just as Facebook released its shares and watched the prices flash up and down on the TVs. “FB NASDAQ Listed” read the big screen facing Times Square.
The crowd outside was not that much larger or rowdier than it usually is in Times Square. The majority of people stationed outside NASDAQ were press, save for a few bystanders gawking at the camera equipment and a gaggle of baffled tourists milling about.
We passed by two blonde twenty-somethings, tourists from Germany, who were wondering what exactly was going on. “It’s a business story,” clarified our news editor. “Oh, okay,” they said, nodding, still looking quite confused.
One man, a “semi-homeless private citizen” named Peter James, stood outside the stock exchange with a sign that read, “Facebook millionaires, please help the N.Y.C. food pantries.”
“I thought this would be a good opportunity to bring to the attention of these new millionaires today that New York City food pantries, operated by churches and synagogues, are pretty much depleted in their food supplies,” Mr. James told us. “Because of the economic recession these past few years, they’re seeing a 200% increase in people needing food, and a lot of these shelters have no baby food. All they’re going to have left is basically rice and cornmeal. So maybe some of these New York City millionaires will help contact a church or a synagogue and see if they need any food supplies.”
By the time we’d finished talking to Mr. James, most of the gawking had petered to a trickle. Only press remained. We sidled up to the Rickshaw Dumpling truck, which was stationed directly outside of NASDAQ. “Do you have a minute to chat?” we asked the two girls serving the dumplings. “Do you want to?” one asked the other. She shook her head no. “Sorry,” she replied, not looking very sorry at all.
Photos by Megan McCarthy.