Google's IPO registration statement, filed today, makes for interesting reading. Turns out the company turned a profit of $106 million last year, on revenues of $962 million. And its revenues of $390 million in the March quarter of 2004 alone surpassed its revenues for all of 2002. Advertising currently makes up 95% of its revenues. And the company holds $455 million in cash. (It truly doesn't need to go public).
Other than the financials the must-read section is founder Larry Page's introductory letter to shareholders, fashioned after Warren Buffett's famous "owner's manual" [PDF] to Berkshire Hathaway investors. Page begins rather bluntly: "Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one." Then he goes on to explain that the IPO price will be determined through an auction process, that he and co-founder Sergey Brin will retain a different class of shares with extra voting power, that one of the company's guiding principles is "don't be evil" (perhaps the first time that phrase has been used in an IPO filing), and that they have no intention of giving quarterly earnings guidance. "A management team distracted by a series of short term targets," he writes, "is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour."
The sick thing is that he could have written anything in that prospectus and people would still be begging him for shares.