Happy Birthday Google!
September 9, 2003 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Happy birthday Google! Today's edition of the Guardian congratulates Google on its 5th birthday 5 years ago - and suggests the company go mutual rather than public to ensure quality over shareholder pressure for profits and be "a living monument to the founding principles of the internet". Good plan?
posted by Pericles (8 comments total)
oh buggery bollocks - the 5th birthday was 2 days ago. the founding was 5 years ago.
posted by Pericles at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2003

I wish they put more than one line into describing how a mutual company could work in this case. Ah well.
posted by kfury at 9:02 AM on September 9, 2003

I'm not big on finance (for example I have no idea what a mutual company even is), but why couldn't they remain private and continue doing business just as they are? By all indications they have been profitable for years and pay their employees well. Why fix it, if it ain't broke.

I've never understood the thinking that any successful company is automatically marking time to an inevitable IPO.
posted by cedar at 9:09 AM on September 9, 2003

Google was kick-started for at least $25m by Kleiner Perkins, and they want their pound of flesh and a way to bilk eager small shareholders in an IPO frenzy. There is no way KP would accept a dribble-down income from a mutual or co-op.


posted by meehawl at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2003

Thanks meehawl, I'd entirely forgotten the VC money. No reason I should have, it was just the other day I listened to one of the founders on NPR explain this very thing.
posted by cedar at 12:45 PM on September 9, 2003

First of all, WTF is a "mutual" company?

Second, Google is amazing. Long may it Google.

Third, what is this nonsense about "a living monument to the founding principles of the internet"? The founding principle of the internet was the ability to transmit information following a nuclear holocaust: "A centralized system might easily be destroyed in wartime, and so traditional technologies wouldn't work. This fear impressed a need on the government to do something different -- to develop a whole new scheme for post-nuclear communication." (source)

Let Google be whatever it wants to be - public, private, for-profit, whatever. I seriously doubt that it will stray from what has worked so well for so long (in net-years).
posted by davidmsc at 5:28 PM on September 9, 2003

It's not "shareholder pressure for profits" that ruins a good company with a quality product. It's shareholder pressure for market valuation. The goal of a public company, after all, is not to make a profit or turn out a high-quality product. It's to maximize shareholder value.

This is the same reason K-P is going to push for Google's IPO, and will likely be the root cause of Google's eventual downfall as the leader in quality. A company focusing on "make stock price get bigger" isn't going to perform the same actions as a company with the goal of producing a profitable high-quality product.

I predict Google's "don't be evil" rule will go out the door soon after it's publicly held, because avoiding evil doesn't maximize the market value of the stock. Ethics and quality cost money, and the shareholders won't stand for that.
posted by majick at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2003

avoiding evil doesn't maximize market value

That's quite a proverb.
posted by goethean at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2003

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