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That's Goo-GOL
May 16, 2004 7:27 AM   Subscribe

A hundred times no! The family of the man who coined the term "Googol" (well, to be honest, he swiped it from a nine-year-old kid) are angry that Google hasn't given them a taste of the upcoming IPO.
posted by baltimore (24 comments total)

 
Um, an esoteric math number -- that few, if any people use -- and a differently-spelled name for a search engine. Oh yes, I can definitely see enough similarities for a lawsuit. In other news: cigarettes are good for you!
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:03 AM on May 16, 2004


"You don't need to give us anything. Just let us participate as insiders on the IPO."
Isn't Google doing a Dutch auction for its IPO shares? The whole point is there aren't going to be any "insiders" -- the company will get all the money from the sale. And that's the idea behind an IPO: the company raises some money by selling its stock. It's not (supposed to be!) a scheme for investment bankers and their cronies to get rich.
posted by spacewrench at 8:23 AM on May 16, 2004


What does Google need all that money for anyway? That's what IPOs are for. They aren't to reward to management or venture capitalists. IPOs are for generating large sums of capital, it's just like going to the VC market only much, much more cash at once. Why do they need hundreds of millions of dollars all at once when they are allegedly cash flow positive already and have a track record of increasing revenues?
posted by shagoth at 8:38 AM on May 16, 2004


shagoth, probably so they can grow the company. You can be cash flow positive but still hampered from growing at an appreciable pace.
posted by substrate at 8:46 AM on May 16, 2004


In particular if they're going to roll out new stuff and the choice is to "wait till we can afford it by saving our pennies" or "let's cash in on some of the good vibe for the company and do it now" then the second choice is probably correct. When you have Microsoft gnashing at the bit to develop a google-killer, albeit probably with heaping doses of evil, you want to develop and deploy as quickly as possible.
posted by substrate at 8:50 AM on May 16, 2004


Meanwhile, The Goo Goo Dolls (Goo Goo Dolls) are trying to decide if they should sue someone, or if someone will sue them.
posted by SPrintF at 9:24 AM on May 16, 2004


About the only *important* tangible thing money can buy for a software company is more people. I'm sure they've read the Mythical Man Month, so let's hope they're planning to blind us with with a huge quantity of new apps, and not just hoping to ship stuff out faster.
posted by sleslie at 9:25 AM on May 16, 2004


...oh wait, the original article...

I'd prefer to play devil's advocate here. The term googol basically means an uncountable number, an arbitrarily large collection of whatever you're counting. Google is a perfect name for a search engine company, and that name was successfully deployed by one individual into our society back in the 40s. I learned all about googols in elementary school, and was able to know exactly what google was all about in an instant upon hearing the name -- all because of Kasner's work.

I don't know if they deserve millions of dollars, but they do deserve an email.
posted by sleslie at 9:43 AM on May 16, 2004


"Googol" may have been successfully deployed by one individual in the 1940s, but "Google" hit the popular culture about 20 years earlier, thanks to Billy DeBeck's comic strip character Barney Google, and the 1923 Billy Rose song about him. Not that that's relevant here, I guess.
posted by hades at 9:49 AM on May 16, 2004


That's what IPOs are for. They aren't to reward to management or venture capitalists.

IPOs can certainly be used to reward VCs-- they sell often their stakes in the company's IPO.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:07 AM on May 16, 2004


shagoth: Rewarding the VC's, and employees who hold (currently valueless) stock options, is exactly the point of this IPO. Google doesn't need the money -- this is the exit strategy for the early investors.
posted by rusty at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2004


The term googol basically means an uncountable number, an arbitrarily large collection of whatever you're counting

I'm pretty sure it's been explicitly valued at 10^100. Maybe it's grown in use sense then, but I've never heard it any other way.
posted by abcde at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2004


As to Google's IPO being a Dutch Auction, an NPR story on the IPO actually explained that it's more hype than anything else. Only about 5% of the shares are available in this way and I believe that the other 95% of shares are being sold the old-fashioned way - insiders.

And this family deserves nothing. A long-dead relative invented a new word once. Who invented the word "blog?"
posted by crazy finger at 12:58 PM on May 16, 2004


Um, did no one happen to notice that the family member claims to have heard of Google back in 1988? Hello? Is this a typo or the claim of someone deeply stupid?

In my opinion, the family shouldn't get anything. How ridiculous. What's next? Will Amazon.com be sued by denizens of the rainforest for "stealing" their name?
posted by twiki at 2:36 PM on May 16, 2004


If the VCs and other early investors can't cash out in some event, IPO or another scheme, then they can't get their money back to invest elsewhere and create other companies and jobs. The family can suck wind since there is no IP to trade on.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2004


In any case, even if they did have any legal ground to stand on, the fact that they waited until Google launched their IPO to make their claim public seems a little more than coincidence. They have hardly conducted a vigorous defense of their "right" to the name up until now.
posted by dg at 5:15 PM on May 16, 2004


Find me someone who tried "Google" because of some implied connection between the Internet and "big numbers", and I'll show you a liar.

This is just money-grubing at its very lowest form.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:36 PM on May 16, 2004


I was going to make a joke about Yahoo Serious but I couldn't get the wording right.
posted by bobo123 at 7:17 PM on May 16, 2004


Section 12G of the Securities and Exchange Act 1934: a private company has to file a report on its finances to the SEC if it has more than 500 common shareholders and $1 million in assets. They've since changed that number to $10 million in assets, but the legislation is otherwise current. Essentially the act turns an otherwise private company in to one that has to make public reports. If you’re going to have to report like a public company anyway you might as well make an IPO and benefit your company.
posted by snarfodox at 7:39 PM on May 16, 2004


Who invented the word "blog?"

That's not that hard. It's a contraction of Jorn Barger's word "weblog."
posted by NortonDC at 9:32 PM on May 16, 2004


Who invented the word "blog?"

Well, nobody invented the word "blog?", as far as I know, but somebody invented the word "blog".
posted by dhartung at 9:55 PM on May 16, 2004




I was going to make a joke about Yahoo Serious but I couldn't get the wording right.

In 2001, Yahoo Serious tried registering Yahoo as a trademark in Australia, but got beaten to the punch by that other Yahoo. I can't find anywhere if he won the court case or not.
posted by zsazsa at 6:45 AM on May 17, 2004


Find me someone who tried "Google" because of some implied connection between the Internet and "big numbers", and I'll show you a liar.

Well, they may or may not consciously choose a search engine because of its name, but it's certainly clear that the name is a reference to a very big number (yes, 10^100, but who really has any idea what that means beyond "very big number"?) and the search engine's imlied ability to organize and filter the enormous amount of stuff on the internet.

The question isn't whether google was referencing googol, but whether by coining a word, one has any claim on other people's use of it. I would like to think not, although the way copyright laws are going these days, it's difficult to say.
posted by mdn at 10:08 AM on May 17, 2004


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