Google Annual Meeting: Shareholder Proposals Fail, But Brin Abstains; Board Re-Elected
Thursday, May 8, 2008; 7:07 PM
Two non-shockers from the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) annual shareholder meeting: The entire board slate has been re-elected, and two shareholder proposals (doing business in China, board on human rights) failed to pass. But there was one interesting wrinkle: Co-founder and director Sergei Brin abstained from the vote, saying he agreed with the spirit of the proposals, just not the wording and the implementation. Brin: "I say at the outset that I'm pretty proud of what we've been able to accomplish in China...Google has a far superior track record than other internet or internet search companies in China." He added that some of Google's anti-censorship innovations, like offering users a warning when their queries are being truncated, have been adopted by chief competitor Baidu.
Following the official votes, the Q&A session with shareholders was the kind of mixed bag you typically get at these things. An intellectual property lawyer complained that companies weren't coming up first in the organic search listings on a search for their name. Another questioned complained that his emails to investor relations went unanswered (Schmidt promised to deal with the issue). And yet another shareholder, who seemed like he was mainly there to plug his podcast, wondered why Google hadn't done much in the podcasting space.
Schmidt was asked why Google's revenue outside of the UK and US was only 30 percent, but 80 percent of global internet usage was outside of those markets: "The different of course is monetization." He noted that this past quarter was the first where international surpasses US revenue, and he said that disparity could grow to a 65/35 split.