Google's Grating Silence
TheStreet's Kevin Kelleher talks about Google's secretiveness when it comes to talking to Investors and says that this is all well and good in good times, but Investors won't stand for it in bad...
"So let's name Google's holy trinity for what it is: a bunch of hypocrites. Genius hypocrites. Unconventional hypocrites. Revolutionary hypocrites. But hypocrites all the same."
There was a telling moment for Google when CEO Eric Schmidt spoke at the Bear Stearns Media Conference Wednesday. Analyst Alexia Quadrani lobbed a softball to get the discussion going: "Where do you see advertising dollars coming from?"
Without missing a beat, Schmidt responded, "We don't really know."
... Google's silence encourages the kind of faith-based investing that proved deadly in the last few years, an arguably reckless approach then and now. But unlike those greedy dot-coms, Google's logic implies that it's Wall Street that is evil -- all silk suits and slumped shoulders, tittering as they rob widows and step on kittens for fun. But let's say its investors awoke to their shame and gave their shares back to Google. Would the world be any better off?
Probably not. Beneath Google's attitude toward Wall Street lies petulance that Google had to go public -- not just to pay off venture investors but because private companies need to disclose financials once they have more than 500 investors (which Google did in 2004, thanks to employee options). If Page and Brin were really serious about not playing the guidance game, they could have stayed private. But that would have meant all the transparency of a public company without any of the financial perks.
In other words, Page, Brin and Schmidt have no problem holding a collective $17 billion stake thanks to Google's public status, but they will do everything they can to keep other shareholders from seeing how the sausage is made. And yet on Wall Street, as elsewhere, increased transparency has proven a virtue time and again.
It's Google's fabulous joke on the rest of us: The company making the world's information "universally accessible" won't allow you to have much information about itself. So let's name Google's holy trinity for what it is: a bunch of hypocrites. Genius hypocrites. Unconventional hypocrites. Revolutionary hypocrites. But hypocrites all the same.
Amazing how the financial press have not caught up with Autolink yet, that silence is beginning to grate a little also...
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