PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Google lowers expectations in hopes of gain

WASHINGTON: The financial world has been in a tizzy these past few months over the reams of cash to be made from a possible Google IPO, something that seems to have ticked off founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. And who can blame them? IPOs and the pressure to satisfy profit-mad stockholders have ravaged the culture - and often the very existence - of some of the Internet Age's most promising companies. You'd be scared, too, if a global horde of day- traders were looking at your brainchild as the first decent meal they'd had since Pets.com.

WASHINGTON: The financial world has been in a tizzy these past few months over the reams of cash to be made from a possible Google IPO, something that seems to have ticked off founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. And who can blame them? IPOs and the pressure to satisfy profit-mad stockholders have ravaged the culture - and often the very existence - of some of the Internet Age's most promising companies. You'd be scared, too, if a global horde of day- traders were looking at your brainchild as the first decent meal they'd had since Pets.com.

Then again, $30 billion is a lot of money. So it was a quirky stroke of genius - or at least masterful control of stockholder expectations - when Page and Brin filed an "S-1" form with the SEC that read more like the Magna Carta than a stock announcement. "Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one," read the letter, written by Page. "By investing in Google, you are placing an unusual long-term bet on the team, especially Sergey and me." The 4,000-word document, entitled "An Owner's Manual for Google's Shareholders," goes on to list several hundred reasons you may not want to invest in the quirky company. Among them: It likes to treat its employees to free meals and medical care and has no intention of stopping; its management structure is a triumvirate that is not immune to disagreement and differences of opinion; it's not going to massage short-term reports just to make you, the stockholder, happy, thank you very much. And so the conversation changed. Google's defiant culture dominated most articles, pushing glassy-eyed ruminations over the return of tech's IPO heyday to the bottom inches. So Page and Brin seem not to want to get anyone's hopes too high. Yet, they are still expected to be billionaires by summer. Nobody's stood to gain that much from lowered public expectations since the 2000 Presidential debates.

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