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Software Doesn't Break Laws...
No surprise here: the Recording Industry Association of America doesn't like the ruling. The New York Times picked up on a statement by RIAA chief Mitch Bainwol, who said the ruling "does not absolve these businesses from their responsibility as corporate citizens to address the rampant illegal use of their networks." Indeed, the RIAA and movie industry can still aim their ammo at individual file-sharers. The ruling "says the makers of the software can't be liable," Art Brodsky, communications director of public interest group Public Knowledge, told the Times. "It doesn't say anything about the individual users."
The New York Times: File-Sharing Sites Found Not Liable for Infringement (Registration required)
Sergey and Larry, Everybody's New Best Friends
The finally consummated Google IPO made instant riches for its founders and executives yesterday, after the company's shares managed to log an 18 percent increase to close at $100.34 on the Nasdaq. So how much are Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin worth these days. Well, something short of $4 billion apiece, according to The Washington Post.
The San Jose Mercury News put Google's market capitalization of $27 billion in perspective, saying it makes "it the seventh-largest company in the valley, behind technology luminaries such as Intel, Cisco and Yahoo. What is more, its founders are now billionaires. And Google was finally able to reward its earliest employees and investors by making them multi-millionaires, at least on paper, with stock options and stock. As many as 1,050 of Google's nearly 2,300 employees are paper millionaires, according to an estimate by Salary.com." The Washington Post said Google is worth "substantially less than Hewlett Packard Co. and eBay Inc. Microsoft Corp., which Google has identified as its most formidable new competitor in the business of searching for information on the Internet, has a stock market value of $294.2 billion."
San Jose Mercury News: No Big Pop, But Still Bubbly (Registration required)
The Washington Post: Investors Greet Google With $27 Billion Smile (Registration required)
Wall Street Gets Its Revenge
The New York Times noted that while Google tried to be untraditional with its auction-style of its IPO shares, the usual IPO trading patterns quickly took hold: "Flipping is what invariably happens in more traditional public stock offerings, when investment bankers invite favored clients and friends to buy shares before the stock begins public trading, and those fortunate few quickly sell their shares into the investor frenzy that often greets a new issue. And apparently that is also what happened here. More than 22 million shares of Google traded hands yesterday. The company had sold only 19.6 million shares when it closed its online auction Wednesday evening. Theoretically, that meant that every share changed hands at least once in yesterday's trading." The Financial Times said Google's "jump in the share price in the first hours of trading was a sign the auction process touted as the ideal way to match supply and demand had failed to achieve that objective."
The New York Times: After Months of Hoopla, Google Debut Fits The Norm (Registration required)
Financial Times: Google Shares Close 18% Up On Debut
More on the auction process, from the Los Angeles Times: "The reception, although obviously a boon for the successful auction bidders and for Google insiders, didn't end the debate over whether the auction method of selling new stocks was better than the traditional method, whereby investment bankers set the price of an offering after consulting with the company and interested big investors. Indeed, some Wall Street pros said the stock's first-day pop was exactly what shouldn't have happened if the auction system worked perfectly."
Los Angeles Times: Stock's 1st-Day Pop Fuels Debate Over IPO Auction (Registration required)
Google IPO Under the Pundit-scope
Washington Post columnist Steve Pearlstein said reporters were as fickle as Wall Street itself when it came to covering the Google IPO, likening the ebb and flow of love/hate coverage to "the Wall Street version of the Michael Phelps story. Because Phelps has won only four of the eight gold medals he was supposed to, this phenomenal swimmer is suddenly the big disappointment story out of the Athens games. Let's put the Google IPO in its proper perspective. It raised $1.7 billion, the 25th-largest IPO ever and the largest of any Internet company. It valued the company at $23 billion, roughly the same as General Motors. Those who had the guts to buy the initial shares scored a cool 18 percent gain on the first day of trading. And those two bumbling, amateurish founders are now each worth $3.8 billion. If that's a 'disaster,' we could sure use a few more of them. Let's find out what chardonnay those 'bumblers' drink and send a case to all the other high-tech CEOs."
The Washington Post's Pearlstein: A Gaggle Of Google Critics (Registration required)
But Wall Street continued to criticize Google's IPO process. Google "'would have achieved a better valuation and more controlled upside' using the traditional IPO method, says Chad Brownstein of ITU Ventures, a venture-capital firm. He estimates the traditional underwriting process would have priced Google near $100 a share," USA Today reported. But some praised the auction for letting the little people, otherwise known as small-time investors, get involved. "If you sit back and look at the end result, more money went into the pockets of the people that deserved it," Jeff Matthews of hedge fund Ram Partners told the Wall Street Journal "If anything, it's showing us the Dutch auction can work."
USA Today: Google Scores First-Day Bump Of 18%
The Wall Street Journal: Google Shares Prove Big Winners -- For a Day (Subscription required)
The New York Times generally praised Google's IPO in an editorial today: "Only time will tell if the company can fend off efforts by Yahoo and Microsoft to build superior search engines. Google still exudes that unabashed Silicon Valley anti-establishment attitude, the kind that made 1999 such fun for a lot of young techies. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the way it sought to dictate to Wall Street the terms of its own sale, as opposed to the other way around. This is a commendable impulse -- I.P.O.'s have generally been structured to benefit insiders."
The New York Times: Google Goes Public (Registration required)
Eric, Give Me a Call
Eric E. Schmidt, the man Brin and Page "hired as their chief executive in 2001, sold $31 million of his stock but still holds shares worth more than $1.4 billion," The Washington Post noted. And then there's a certain professor who no longer has to worry about the "publish or perish" police: "Computer science professor David Cheriton, Page's and Brin's mentor at Stanford University, is worth $307 million. He sold about $29 million worth of his stock in the offering."
The Washington Post: Insiders Get Rich Through IPO (Registration required)
America Online's parent company even got a piece of the action due to a deal struck by AOL to use Google as its search engine, the New York Post reported. "Time Warner has a 2 percent stake in the newly public tech company -- a stake valued at nearly $700 million after selling off a small chunk during the initial public offering. The company sold slightly more than 700,000 shares for about $63 million. Time Warner retains nearly 6.7 million shares in Google."
New York Post: Time Warner Wins Big On Goog
Blogging the Athens Games
The organizers of the summer Olympics want coverage of the games, but they aren't too keen on participants and athletes writing about the games online. "The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites. An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games. The IOC's rationale for the restrictions is that athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists -- and that the interests of broadcast rightsholders and accredited media come first," the Associated Press reported.
The Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News: Olympic Athletes Largely Barred From Posting Online Diaries