The Politics of Googles IPO - Page 2
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.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 http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
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.