A Different Kind of IPO

Wall Street insiders and much of the financial press could not stop humming Google'

Wall Street insiders and much of the financial press could not stop humming Google’s requiem in the final days prior to the company’s lurch into the publicly traded stock market this past August.

"The Google golden boys who could do no wrong as they built an Internet search-engine powerhouse have gotten a harsh lesson in the dangers of Hubris.com," crowed USA Today on the eve of Google’s IPO (initial public offering).

Self-fulfilling prophecies aren’t always self-fulfilling on the Street, however. Following the IPO, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are multibillionaires (at least on paper). And the technology company raised a mountain of cash that it will use to take on Yahoo! and other online competitors.

So why did all the dark clouds hover over Google as it was poised to become one of the most highly valued companies in the world?

Google’s management and founders had the audacity, yes the hubris, to run its IPO in a democratic way that would spread the wealth beyond the biggest fish in banking. They made a remarkable decision to circumvent the standard IPO process and go directly to the small investor, thereby denying the investment banking sector the sole right to underwrite its shares.

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Sojourners Magazine October 2004
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