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4/30/2004
04:36 PM
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Google's IPO Filing Shows There's Money In Search

Dot-com IPOs are hot again. Or at least one is: The Internet's leading search company, Google Inc., last week filed for a $2.7 billion initial public offering, underwritten by Credit Suisse First Boston and Morgan Stanley.

The filing reveals that Google has been profitable for the past three years, with a profit of $105.6 million last year on revenue of $961.8 million. That's more than 10 times its 2001 revenue.

The filing was widely anticipated, because the Securities and Exchange Commission requires private companies with more than $10 million in assets and 500 or more shareholders to disclose financial information similar to that which public companies must disclose.

Google's financial information is the most significant aspect of the filing because the numbers confirm what Yahoo Inc. shareholders have recently seen: There's money in the search business, says Chris Sherman, editor of SearchDay, a newsletter by SearchEngineWatch.com.

In the filing, Google co-founder Larry Page lays out the company philosophy, striking an earnest, socially conscientious tone that recalls Apple Computer's rainbow-hued image up through its "Think Different" era. "Don't be evil," he writes. "We believe strongly that, in the long term, we will be better served--as shareholders and in all other ways--by a company that does good things for the world, even if we forgo some short-term gains."

Google will live up to its "don't be evil" principle by keeping user trust and not accepting payment for search results, Page says. As befits this egalitarian stance, Google will offer its shares in a so-called "Dutch auction," in which public bidding determines share price and anyone can bid for shares.

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