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Google IPO

Mark Edwards

The Internet's dominant search engine has filed its long awaited IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The deal has been structured so that founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page retain decision making authority of the listed company.

In a humourous link to their geeky beginnings, the amount they wish to raise, $2.718281828 billion, is the value "e", the base of the natural logarithm.

The deal is hoped to herald a Silicon Valley resurgence after the lean years since many of Google's fellow dot-coms burned out.

During my time in Silicon Valley in 1999, I visited the Google offices. At that time their employment conditions were notorious for their decadence. They had free restaurant style meals in the office cafeteria prepared by a 5-star chef as well as masseurs for their staff. People often joked about the weight you were expected to gain soon after starting with them.

At the time there was speculation that if Google had sold, they would have received about $500,000,000 for the company. With hindsight, that would have been a bargain!

Now, according to their SEC filing, Google had a turnover of $961.9 million in 2003 and recorded a $105.6 million net profit. In the latest quarter they made a $64 million profit on revenue of $389.6 million. They have an operating profit margin of 62%. In addition they are sitting on a warchest of $454.9 million.

Their 1907 employees will all do well out of the listing and I have no doubt that the emlpoyees I met during my visit will do well enough that they would never need to work again.

Not bad for a business launched in a friend's garage in 1998.

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