Google co-founder: No rush for IPO
Despite frenzied speculation of an imminent public offering of the search giant, company co-founder Sergey Brin says he’s still casually debating the pros and cons.
SAN JOSE, Calif.–Despite frenzied speculation of an imminent Google public offering, company co-founderSergey Brin said he’s still casually debating the pros and cons with board members and has not yet set a date.
“We are profitable, and we don’t need the cash. But it might be nice to have the transparency” of a public company, Brin said Wednesday at the Search Engine Strategies conference here. “Still, there are significant management distractions to be a public company.”
“That’s not to say we’re never going to do it.There’s a good chance eventually we’re going to doit,” he said to an audience of about 400 people. Brin, who turns 30 on Thursday, answered questions from Danny Sullivan, editor of industry newsletter Search Engine Watch, which hosts the 5-year-old conference.
Sullivan ticked off a slew of questions on the minds of attending Webmasters, rival search engines, advertisers and financial analysts, who regard Google and its possible initial public offering as a likely savior of the Internet tech market. Wall Street and Silicon Valley have compared a potential Google IPO to Netscape Communications’ public offering in the mid-1990s, when its successful opening on the market placed the Internet on the map. Because of Google’s global adoration and the money being made in search-engine advertising, analysts speculate that the company would be worth about $2 billion.
“Is there any circumstance in which Google mightbuy Microsoft?” Sullivan said wryly, setting offlaughter in the room. “Or the opposite?”
Brin said: “There are a lot of liabilities inacquiring Microsoft.”
Brin acknowledged that many companies over the five-year history of Google have approached it with offers.And while the company has taken each one seriously, he said,Google holds a lot of promise and a buyout is not likely.
Speculation of a Microsoft-Google marriage has peaked in recent months after a series of rival buyouts locked Yahoo, Microsoft and Google in a battle for search dominance. Within the last six months, commercial search provider Overture Services has bought AltaVista and the Web search assets of Fast Search & Transfer. Yahoo bought Inktomi, and then turned around and acquired Overture last month for $1.7 billion.
In regards to Google’s rivals, Brin said that many companies have been unsure how to compete in the marketplace, resulting in “trigger finger” acquisitions. But he cautioned that the integration challenges in those buyouts will be substantial, given the companies’ complicated histories and product offerings. He defended Google’s purchases–of Applied Semantics, Outride and Pyra Labs–as relatively successful because of the small size of each company.