Google: Sergey and Larry's Excellent $2.7bn Adventure

30 April 2004

"Google is not a conventional company. We don't intend to become one."

That's the message to Wall Street and salivating investors from Google's founding ex-student duo, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as they prepare the initial public offering for their highly desirable property.

And in best student tradition, they aim to do it their way, not Wall Street's, via a stock auction expected to raise in the region of $2.7 billion (€2.26bn; £1.53bn). In selling the shares by this route, rather than allowing investment banks to pre-set the price, Google aims to guarantee "a fair process for our IPO that is inclusive of both small and large investors".

And to ensure there are enough shares available, Brin and Page will put some of their own holdings up for sale, encouraging other Google employees to follow suit.

Furthermore, Bill and Ted's successors are sufficiently Wall- streetwise to ringfence Google from future predators by issuing two classes of stock.

Emulating Lord Conrad Black, this stratagem will leave control of the company firmly in the hands of the former Stanford University twosome -- even though they will be minority shareholders. Each of the founders will retain nearly 16% of the company, probably making them worth upward of $4bn individually.

The pair also have another, more respected, role model. The legendary Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett. Post-IPO Google will have a corporate structure that avoids the pressure to produce short-term results at the expense of long-term stability.

Acknowledging Buffet's influence, Brin and Page waft a welcome breeze of sanity through their filing: "A management team distracted by a series of short-term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour."

Google's filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission contains a number of formally declared goals, two of which are unlikely to be found in the articles of any other multinational.

"Don't be evil." And: "Make the world a better place."

[For the full text of the founders' statement click here.]

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff