It has been one of the canniest image-building exercises ever. From a standing start less than six years ago, the name Google has risen to stand alongside Coke and Ford as a giant among American brands. The search-engine company, which this weekend is distributing shares to investors who have signed up to its initial public offering (IPO), has become synonymous with being the coolest, fastest, most reliable place to find information on the web.
But all is not well in the land of Google. The IPO process has been bungled: many big institutions who have been left out of the process by the bizarre auction method being used to allocate shares are angry at the way it is being floated. They accuse its founders of wanting too much money and they claim it has an unproven business model.
The behaviour of the two, young nerdish founders in the run-up to the bid has bordered on the farcical. Late last week they were under fire for possibly leaking information – not to a leading financial newspaper or a broker, but to a girlie magazine.
Many fear the IPO harks back to the worst years of dot.com excesses. “You've been googled” looks likely to enter the business world's phrasebook, as a saying for investors being persuaded to buy something risky that they don't really want.
There have been many signs that the IPO has not been going as well as the founders had hoped, although the press releases will undoubtedly claim ...