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Google Lists Yahoo and Microsoft As Risk Factors in IPO Filing

Google Lists Yahoo and Microsoft As Risk Factors in IPO Filing

Google filed for an IPO today with the Security Exchange Commission making their revenue and business structure public knowledge. Here is an excerpt from the filing which lists Yahoo and Microsoft as Google’s largest Risk Factors.

An investment in Google involves significant risks. You should read these risk factors carefully before deciding whether to invest in our company. The following is a description of what we consider our key challenges and risks.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

We face significant competition from Microsoft and Yahoo.

We face formidable competition in every aspect of our business, and particularly from other companies that seek to connect people with information on the web and provide them with relevant advertising. Currently, we consider our primary competitors to be Microsoft and Yahoo. Microsoft has announced plans to develop a new web search technology that may make web search a more integrated part of the Windows operating system. We expect that Microsoft will increasingly use its financial and engineering resources to compete with us. Yahoo has become an increasingly significant competitor, having acquired Overture Services, which offers Internet advertising solutions that compete with our AdWords and AdSense programs, as well as the Inktomi, AltaVista and AllTheWeb search engines. Since June 2000, Yahoo has used, to varying degrees, our web search technology on its web site to provide web search services to its users. We have notified Yahoo of our election to terminate our agreement, effective July 2004. This agreement with Yahoo accounted for less than 3% of our net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2003 and less than 3% for the three months ended March 31, 2004.

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Both Microsoft and Yahoo have more employees than we do (in Microsoft’s case, currently more than 20 times as many). Microsoft also has significantly more cash resources than we do. Both of these companies also have longer operating histories and more established relationships with customers. They can use their experience and resources against us in a variety of competitive ways, including by making acquisitions, investing more aggressively in research and development and competing more aggressively for advertisers and web sites. Microsoft and Yahoo also may have a greater ability to attract and retain users than we do because they operate Internet portals with a broad range of products and services. If Microsoft or Yahoo are successful in providing similar or better web search results compared to ours or leverage their platforms to make their web search services easier to access than ours, we could experience a significant decline in user traffic. Any such decline in traffic could negatively affect our net revenues.

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We face competition from other Internet companies, including web search providers, Internet advertising companies and destination web sites that may also bundle their services with Internet access.

In addition to Microsoft and Yahoo, we face competition from other web search providers, including companies that are not yet known to us. We compete with Internet advertising companies, particularly in the areas of pay-for-performance and keyword-targeted Internet advertising. Also, we may compete with companies that sell products and services online because these companies, like us, are trying to attract users to their web sites to search for information about products and services.

We also compete with destination web sites that seek to increase their search-related traffic. These destination web sites may include those operated by Internet access providers, such as cable and DSL service providers. Because our users need to access our services through Internet access providers, they have direct relationships with these providers. If an access provider or a computer or computing device manufacturer offers online services that compete with ours, the user may find it more convenient to use the services of the access provider or manufacturer. In addition, the access provider or manufacturer may make it hard to access our services by not listing them in the access provider’s or manufacturer’s own menu of offerings. Also, because the access provider gathers information from the user in connection with the establishment of a billing relationship, the access provider may be more effective than we are in tailoring services and advertisements to the specific tastes of the user.

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Loren Baker

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ... [Read full bio]

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