January 10, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Google riches outed on the Web

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Google's clubby campus has been hit with an embarrassment of riches--literally--thanks to a rarely invoked securities law requiring the company to report stock sales of hundreds of employees, rather than just top executives and shareholders.

Larry Page Since its August initial public offering, Google has filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing the multimillion-dollar stock sales of founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, all the way down to the rank and file. The disclosures have so far affected about 400 of the company's 3,000 employees, and include documenting one trade of just five shares worth $850. (Planned stock sales can be reviewed on Yahoo finance.)

Employee complaints aren't exactly piling up about Google's generous stock grant policies, which have helped create an estimated 1,000 new millionaires, on paper at least. But the SEC filings have struck something of a nerve inside the company by offering an unusually candid look into the wealth of co-workers. That's creating unaccustomed tensions inside a workplace that has long projected an image of collegial egalitarianism to the outside world, some people said.


What's new:
A rarely invoked securities law is requiring Google to publicly report stock sales of hundreds of its employees, rather than just a handful of top shareholders.

Bottom line:
The SEC filings have struck a nerve by offering a candid look into the earning power of co-workers, creating unaccustomed tensions inside a workplace that has long projected an image of egalitarianism.

More stories on this topic

"The whole culture's really strange when there are two people in the same cubicle and one's worth $1 million and the other is worth nothing and they both know it," said one person close to the company. "It's created this asymmetry where some people feel more entitled than others."

Google, brimming with idealism and its seemingly altruistic goal of turning the world into a giant digital library, is now wrestling with the discomforting mixture of instant employee wealth and a little too much information of its own.

Google declined to comment for this story. But securities lawyers said the stock sale disclosures stem from an SEC rule regarding the sale or purchase of securities outside of a public offering.

Typically only executive officers or directors of a company must file their trades with the SEC, allowing most employees to buy and sell their stock anonymously.

Sergey Brin Google's IPO offers an exception to the general rule, however, thanks to the unusually large number of employee stock purchases that took place in advance of the public offering. In order to benefit from certain tax advantages, hundreds of employees decided to purchase their shares outright in pre-public private sales rather than wait for the IPO. As a result, they owned restricted stock instead of options at the time of the offering, forcing them to report their stock sales as insiders.

Securities lawyers said companies can typically avoid reporting restricted stock sales under an exemption known as rule 701, but only

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Yahoo all over again.
Hopefully many of you "old-timers" remember when Yahoo went IPO, and just how high their stock went (over US$250/share).

This sort-of thing puts Google in the negative spotlight, although I'm sure they'll find some way to weasel out of it. Rather than our government investigating Microsoft, it should be focusing more on companies like Google -- companies that still seem to suffer from the elitist DOT-COM mentality where initial employees are somehow worth millions of dollars compared to newer ones who work just as hard.

Google's hiring practises have also been under the spotlight numerous times in the past. I myself applied there back in 2001, went through the interview process, and was offered a salary which most people in the Bay Area cannot reasonably live on (around US$40K/year) -- "but you get TONS of stock!" said HR. When I asked Google's HR folk if they knew of any apartment complexes in the Bay which accepted stock as a form of rent payment, they looked at me as if I was from Mars.

What happened to moral, decent, and non-shady American businesses? Where did we go wrong? Or is Google just another example of capitalism gone extreme?
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sounds like sour eggs...
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
negative spotlight
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/eagle_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/eagle_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Al Johnsons (157 comments )
Link Flag
We can now do something about Google/Yahoo screwing us.
Problem with Google &#38; Yahoo is that they are owned by the same gang.
That is right, they may seem like competing companies, separate companies.
But in fact the same silicon valley (wall street) gang owns both of them.
That is Stanford Univ, KlinerPerkins, Sequoia capital, etc.
What this results in is that they offer no real choice, they offer a monopoly.
And monopolies are always bad for people: search users, Advertisers, and
prospective/current employees, etc.

So I thank god every day that we have a real alternative search engine now,
which is AnooX (www.anoox.com)

Why is AnooX better than mega Wall Street backed corporate giants Google &#38; Yahoo:

1- AnooX search results are Optimized by majority Vote of the people, that is us, rather
than some silicon valley insider schemes, which are Google &#38; Yahoo methods.

2- AnooX shares its Ad revenues with its search users, that is us again.

3- AnooX Ad rates are like 90% less than Google &#38; Yahoo, because AnooX is essentially
a not for profit company.

Mind you AnooX does not have the luxury of Google &#38; Yahoo of being armed with
Billions of dollars, so it currently runs on few servers and thus its search results are
a wee bit slow and it Indexes home pages of web site, so it is good for finding
businesses. But with our support, it will become one of the top Search engines,
for our benefit. After all AnooX is a people driven search engine, for the benefit of
the people, unlike Google &#38; Yahoo which are for the benefit of silicon valley (wall streets)
Posted by 207495111267145837975635436522 (58 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Uh, No...
I just tried you so-called 'search engine', AnooX, and I have to say it returned the worst results I have ever seen for an engine. What you fail to say here is that most voters have a self interest. While Google applies the PageRank algorithm (not perfect, but very effective), your site applies people (which you hope will give honest results above and beyond the failed algorithms you apply initially). Sadly, the people that appear to be voting to 'improve' results on your engine appear to be spammers. Or idiots. Or both.

The backers of Google and Yahoo! should be proud they've delivered services that are usable. If they benefit financially from this, great--that's capitalism. From the looks of the results returned by AnooX, their founders should be run out of town on a rail.
Posted by stephenpace (72 comments )
Link Flag
Eric Schmidt is the biggest Mafia puppet in the US. He is bad news for apple users. http://endmafia.com
Posted by geo11101 (76 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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