January 22, 2008 4:00 AM PST

Life after Google, with millions

Life after Google, with millions
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Editors' note: This is part one of a two-part series. In part two, published Wednesday, a software engineer turned sustainable real estate developer and others explain why leaving Google is never easy.

What would you do if you were flush with $10 million or $100 million? Would you retire, go to work every day at the company that made you rich, or chase other dreams?

That's the multimillion-dollar question for hundreds of early Googlers. By some estimates, more than 900 employees became instant millionaires when Google went public in August 2004, and that total has likely ballooned along with the stock price. On Friday the stock closed at $600.25, up more than 600 percent from its opening price of $85.

According to the company's most recent securities filing, Google employees held 11,662,917 outstanding stock options as of September 30, 2007. At the current stock price, those shares would carry a potential value of about $4.48 billion for employees. Google co-founder Larry Page's stock holdings are also worth about $18.85 billion and Sergey Brin's, $18.51 billion, according to analysis from executive compensation firm Equilar.

But as those bank accounts have filled up, many early Googlers have left the company. By some estimates, nearly a third of the first 500 Googlers have departed, and many more of the estimated 2,200 pre-IPO employees are planning an exit as their stock vests. (A Google representative did not respond to a request for comment.)

Some ex-Googlers are chasing summer around the world, raising families, or just sleeping late. Others are teaching art, going to law school, writing books, or stumping for politicians. Still others, having made their fortune, are taking on all those things. Olana Hirsch Khan, for example, who ran Google's international sales professional services team, is now chief operating officer at charitable micro-finance site Kiva.org (which President Bill Clinton promoted in his recent book, Giving). She also does philanthropic work of her own and just had a baby.

Another crop of Xooglers (as one alumni site calls them) are emerging as Silicon Valley's newest entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists. They're following a long tradition of technology companies like Netscape and PayPal, which minted millionaires who then started their own companies. This is, after all, how Silicon Valley has always worked, stretching all the way to Fairchild Semiconductor, where Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce worked before founding chip giant Intel in 1968.

The micro-messaging service Twitter, for example, was co-founded by an ex-Googler. It has also raised money from other former employees at the search giant. Former Google sales manager and current venture capitalist Aydin Senkut has invested in municipal Wi-Fi developer Meraki, along with several other former employees.

What's unique about Google is the vastness of the wealth it has created in such a short time and the impact that money could have in coming years. Have the Xooglers had a big hit yet? No. But Google expatriates are likely to play a greater role in the Valley's business and culture than any other group, bringing their company's brainy and shoot-for-the-stars sensibilities to new tech companies, philanthropic causes, and even a wine bar or two.

CNET News.com interviewed several former Googlers, ranging from the masseuse who struck it big to several entrepreneurs who are trying to prove that their wealth was as much about their talent as it was their luck.

"The question for early Googlers now that they have financial independence is not whether they can be smart, but whether they will be profound," said one insider.

CONTINUED: Where are they now?…
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5 comments

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Google Up = US economy and our business Down
This is great during the same 5 years that Google shares have gone up 500% US economy has gone done the toilet as evident by the US Dollar that has
fallen an amazing 50% vs Euro and vs every other developed nations currency, as evident by home prices going down in US while going up in Europe and elsewhere and of course as evident by the unprecedented 75 basis cut in Fed funds rate
today, etc. etc.

So who cares that Google has produced a few Millionaires when during the same time 100s of Millions of Americans have gotten vastly poorer. And indeed can't one summarize from the above facts that Google's profit have come on the back of 10's of 1000s of small businesses as Google has entered business after business to maximize
its profit at the expense of every body else?

That is why I and every body else who is independent thinking and not brain washed by Big
media has been recommending this "Not-Profit-Motivated" search engine called AnooX.
You can see them of course at:
www.anoox.com

So if you want to benefit from much lower cost of advertising, if you want to be free from funding a search engine that tomorrow can be your competition and thus kill your business, I suggest switching from Google to Anoox or any other search engine that you like as long as it is not not-for-profit like Anoox. Less you want to see, your business, US economy, going doing another 50% over next 5 years while Google keeps going higher and as it takes away your profits.
Posted by Sea of Cortez (67 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So very true
WOW, I find myself in total agreement with both posts here. I agree too that you should go with Anoox if you want much lower cost of advertising and no competition from the search engine that you are advertising on.
Posted by Info_Max (52 comments )
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Xooglers
Strangely enough, one's chances of hitting it big by taking sub-par pay with stock options at a startup are slim to nil. I would like to have a bit a balance in this piece, with a proportional part of the coverage devoted to those who did not strike it rich, the Google way.
Posted by anthonykuhn (7 comments )
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So very true
This article and similar puff articles about a few who have gotten stock options and made Millions in Silicon Valley fails to mentions 100s of Thousands and even Millions whose stock option never got any value.

In fact you have a higher chance of winning the Lottery than getting VC funding and seeing your company go public and your stock options have Millions of dollars in value.

But this is the HOAX that the big media has sold to the American public in exchange for not asking for Universal health care & Education , etc. that the Europeans get as a result of which their economies are doing so much better than US econ.
Posted by Info_Max (52 comments )
Link Flag
Great article. Talk about being at the right place at the right time or going for the right interview.

Early birds do get the best worms.
Posted by Chrishen_Bijay (1 comment )
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