The Politics of Googles IPO - Page 2

By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2004-07-29 Print this article Print

As with stock options, the potential for trouble here— big, fat political trouble— is big. Google may not be the company that triggers a backlash. But it may launch a trend that brings the hammer down. Why? Because the public is fickle. The memory of techs reputation for fly-by-night economics is fading, but it could easily be revived, sort of like a brush fire that isnt quite out. Just get a few disgruntled shareholders in a room with an ambitious congressman, and youll a recipe for big trouble: mandatory lock-ups, for instance (right now, theyre not required by law). Or even more complicated and scrupulous insider disclosure, a kind of Sarbanes-Oxley for individuals, not just companies.
Sarbanes-Oxley gets passed in part because gotta-have-it dot-com went to who-needs-it-dot-bomb in the blink of an eye. Imagine a series of offerings with Googles very flexible insider terms that do poorly after the stock is offered to the public.
Google has anticipated this very event; its warnings are explicit and repeated. But, as anyone who went through the last surge of interest in tech remembers, those warnings are often brushed off by shareholders and fudged by those offering shares for sale. Check out David Courseys "Just Say No to Google IPO" commentary. The headlines last time werent pretty. Remember the Fortune cover, "You bought, They sold," along with the outrage and hurt feelings engendered in tech circles? This time the stakes are higher. The first time around this was a public relations problem thats faded away. Next time it might not be so simple to resolve or easy to dismiss. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

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Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at that focuses on the intersection of politics, technology and business issues in San Francisco, in California and on the national scene.

Nolan's work is well-known to tech-savvy readers. Her weekly syndicated column, 'Talk is Cheap,' appeared in The New York Post, Upside, and other publications. Debuting in 1997 at the beginnings of the Internet stock boom, it covered a wide variety of topics and was well regarded for its humor, insight and news value.

Nolan has led her peers in breaking important stories. Her reporting on Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone was the first to uncover the now infamous 'friend of Frank' accounts and led, eventually, to Quattrone's conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

In addition to columns and Weblogging, Nolan's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Fortune, Business 2.0 and Condé, Nast Traveler, and she has spoken frequently on the impact of Weblogging on politics and journalism.

Before moving to San Francisco, Nolan, who has more than 20 years of reporting experience, wrote about politics and technology in Washington, D.C., for a series of television trade magazines. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.


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