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Living Can Kill You

A public Google

Google’s mantra is to not to be evil, but might that also mean not going public? A cleverly illustrated New York Times piece speculates the company’s co-founders want to keep Google eccentric, and by necessity, private, for as long as possible. That article, and two related pieces, provides a timely reminder both of why the dot-com bust and why the market might not always know best.

This portion of the guessing game should end on Thursday, when Google is expected to file something with the SEC declaring its intentions. Meanwhile, as the industry waits and the sniping gets sharper, catch-up on how the search game has changed during the past decade and dream of getting rich.

Update: Google’s IPO plan is for US$2.7-billion in stock on either the NYSE or Nasdaq; the lead underwriters are Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston. There will be a public auction of the stock before it debuts in a few months, allowing its actual users a chance to get in on the ground floor. The company earned about US$106 million on revenue of US$962 million in 2003 according to its SEC filing (the letter from the founders, a.k.a, the “An Owner’s Manual” For Google’s Shareholders, is a must read, and describes the company philosophy and noble business plans).