Google Shares Prosper Despite Wall Street Whingeing

26 August 2004

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the ex-student founders of Google, continue to enjoy their excellent adventure in the treacherous terrain of Wall Street, despite one denizen's damning attack on the newly floated company's corporate governance.

According to Institutional Shareholder Services, which advises pension funds on how to vote at annual meetings, Google has the worst governance of any company listed in the S&P 500 Index. The highest possible mark in the index is one hundred. Google's score: zero point two!

ISS identifies no fewer than twenty-one weaknesses in the company's corporate character. One in particular infuriates the entrail-raker: a capital structure using two classes of shares that allows the founders to retain control [WAMN has no knowledge of ISS complaining about the similar structure erected by Hollinger's errant Lord Black].

Other whinges include …

  • Too few outside directors
  • A compensation plan that allows the company to reprice stock options if the shares fall below a certain value
  • A lack of share ownership guidelines for executives or independent directors.
To all of which complaints Google shares remained serenely indifferent, continuing their upward float from a pared-down launch price of $85 (€70.31; £47.31) to close trading Tuesday at $109.40.

Not all of Wall Street sees it the ISS way.

Investment bank and institutional securities firm Jefferies Group believes the shares will continue their upward trend and has set a price target of $115. According to analyst Youssef Squali, Sergey and Larry "have undoubtedly bequeathed their entrepreneurial spirit and innovative nature to their company and its employees".

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff