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April 30, 2004

Geeks do it smarter

Larry and Sergey are about to be billionaires, and I think that's great. Google is a great company with a service that has changed the way people think about and interact with information and knowledge. The founders also want to change the way investors think of IPOs and corporate management. They won't give quarterly guidance, so as not to be tempted to make short-term decisions or cook the books like so many executives have. Their stock will be strcutured to maintain voting control with a core group (much like Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, which has delivered amazing returns over the years). "A management team distracted by a series of short-term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half-hour," wrote co-founder Larry Page in a letter that accompanied the offer statement.

Most notably, the IPO is designed to prevent the excesses of the 1990s bubble including "flipping," by relying on a kind of reverse auction that will likely prevent a dramatic first-day rise.

Too many tech startups have foundered as the people who were so smart about the tech failed to understand business. It is Page and Brin's wisdom about business that makes me optimistic about the company's long-term success. As Google gets a stock-inflated wallet to match its big brains, Microsoft will have a real fight on its hands. And that will be good for everyone, including our friends in Redmond.

Posted by jay at April 30, 2004 10:25 AM | TrackBack
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Another interesting difference between Google's IPO and the dot com ones of the last decade is that, whereas so many of those companies seemed to exist with the primary goal of achieving an IPO, Google's boys didn't really even want one. They were perfectly happy to continue doing business behind some very well-guarded doors, but pressure from investors who want to cash in played a significant role in their decision to go this route.

Unfortunately I'd not be surprised if we see Google's downfall in the not-too-distant future, even if they are doing what they can to avoid those '90s excesses. They're making short term profits, but how sustainable is that? They have no patents that guarantee product uniqueness, and there are some very fierce (and wealthy) competitors out there (no, I'm not naming names) who are hell-bent on winning the search engine war, and not just by trying to outdo Google and its very successful search algorithm, but by taking the whole idea of what a successful search looks like in an entirely new direction. There's no real evidence that Larry and Sergey have the power to withstand that kind of opponent when the rules of the game change.

Posted by: paulette on April 30, 2004 11:43 AM
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