January 24, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Google co-founders cash in

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That means they've just made a dent in their holdings. As of Jan. 9, Brin still held 32.4 million shares directly and indirectly, meaning he had sold about 17 percent of the shares he held around the time of the IPO. Page still held 32.9 million shares directly and indirectly, after selling 14.5 percent of his shares. And Schmidt held 12.7 million shares directly and through limited partnerships and a trust, reflecting the sale of about 14 percent of his total.

Cashing in

Google's management triumvirate sold shares faster and for far more money than executives at other big Internet businesses did in their first 17 months as publicly traded companies.

Jerry Yang, co-founder, Yahoo
IPO:
4-12-96
# shares:
0
Value:
$0
David Filo, co-founder, Yahoo
IPO:
4-12-96
# shares:
0
Value:
$0
Tim Koogle, CEO, Yahoo
IPO:
4-12-96
# shares:
297,500
Value:
$10.6M
Jeff Bezos, CEO, founder, Amazon
IPO:
5-15-97
# shares:
180,000
Value:
$23.15M
Meg Whitman, CEO, eBay
IPO:
9-24-98
# shares:
903,000
Value:
$137.12M
Pierre Omidyar, founder, eBay
IPO:
9-24-98
# shares:
1,738,000
Value:
$274.13M
Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google
IPO:
8-18-04
# shares:
2,137,602
Value:
$502.25M
Larry Page, co-founder, Google
IPO:
8-18-04
# shares:
5,757,656
Value:
$1,443.5M
Sergey Brin, co-founder, Google
IPO:
8-18-04
# shares:
6,459,627
Value:
$1,680.5M

Source: Thomson Financial

Google's meteoric stock rise has catapulted the two co-founders, who pay themselves $1 per year in actual salaries, onto the shortlist of America's wealthiest people. Forbes magazine estimates Brin and Page's net worth at $11 billion each as of September 2005 and ranks them both at 16th among the richest Americans. Schmidt, who also has cut his annual salary to $1, is ranked 52nd at $4 billion. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates tops the list at $51 billion.

Google executives declined to comment beyond this statement: "At the time of Google's IPO, more than a year ago, all senior executives were asked to enter into 10b5-1 plans. Any sales by Eric, Larry and Sergey are simply a consequence of those required plans. They each retain a large proportion of their initial holdings in Google stock."

They've certainly made a lot more in the first 17 months at a publicly traded company than executives at other big Internet companies. Yahoo co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo did not sell any company stock in the first year-and-a-half after that company went public in April 1996, while former Yahoo CEO Tim Koogle sold just less than 300,000 shares in that time at a market value of $10.6 million, according to Thomson Financial.

Over at eBay, founder Pierre Omidyar was busier, selling 1.7 million shares at a market value of $274 million. eBay CEO Meg Whitman sold more than 900,000 shares at a market value of $137 million in that time. And Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos sold 180,000 shares with a market value of $23 million.

But the fact that the Google executives still own such a large percentage of Google shares significantly lessens any potential harm from the sales, argues Paul Hodgson, senior research associate at The Corporate Library, which researches corporate governance issues.

"I don't think anybody would raise any objection to the Google founders selling shares because they already have such a significant stake in the company," Hodgson said. "Their commitment to the company is still very plain."

And so far, shareholders do not seem to be complaining. Shares rebounded Monday from Friday's drop, rising more than 7 percent to $427.50. Google's $117 billion market capitalization now dwarfs Yahoo's market cap, which is $48 billion, eBay's $60 billion cap, and Amazon's $18 billion. Google even towers over AOL's parent company, media giant Time Warner, which has an $80 billion cap.

As long as Google keeps enriching its investors, it's unlikely many of them will complain that the guys in the executive suite are also cashing in.

"While the (insider stock sales) numbers are pretty incredible, so has been the increase in Google's stock price, and other stockholders have benefited from that increase also," Hodgson said. "There is nothing wrong with diversifying your holdings."

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6 comments

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Message has been deleted.
Posted by caroline_arnata (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Translation please?
I assume this is some pyramid scheme.
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Link Flag
Non-News
If they filed the plan in 2004, why was this article even written ??
Posted by regulator1956 (577 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ignorant
"Any time you sell stock it is an affirmative decision that your assets are better deployed somewhere else," said Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. "I just don't think that for the top leadership of a company, large stock sales send a particularly strong message to the other shareholders. I don't think it's a good thing."

Take one investment course, please. You must always diversify to protect your assets. Selling the stock does not necessarily have anything to do with the owners future assessment of the company. Any competent financial adviser would insist on diversification as soon as possible.

I guess the University of Deleare doen't have a business school?
Posted by dzzz (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Don's right. The sales were proper and justified
The Google boys would have to be very stupid not to sell a
substantial portion of their stock in order to diversify and 15 or
20% is not excessive. 80% would be excessive.

This story is either gross ignorance or malicious gossip-
mongering. You have to wonder what the editors were thinking.
<">
Posted by m00ndogman (14 comments )
Link Flag
i would
i don't think that it sends the wrong message out. maybe they jsut
need some cash!
Posted by thebignoticeboard.com (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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