1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of Registrants principal executive offices)
Chief Executive Officer
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of agent for service)
Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: As soon as practicable after the effective date of this Registration Statement.
If any of the securities being registered on this Form are being offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the Securities Act), check the following box. ¨
If this Form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, please check the following box and list the Securities Act registration number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. ¨
If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. ¨
If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. ¨
If delivery of the prospectus is expected to be made pursuant to Rule 434, check the following box. ¨
CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE
The Registrant hereby amends this Registration Statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the Registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Securities and Exchange Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.
The information in this prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and we are not soliciting any offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.
Prospectus (Subject to Completion)
Dated July 26, 2004
Class A Common Stock
Google Inc. is offering 14,142,135 shares of Class A common stock and the selling stockholders are offering 10,494,524 shares of Class A common stock. We will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders. This is our initial public offering and no public market currently exists for our shares. We anticipate that the initial public offering price will be between $108.00 and $135.00 per share.
Following this offering, we will have two classes of authorized common stock, Class A common stock and Class B common stock. The rights of the holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock are identical, except with respect to voting and conversion. Each share of Class A common stock is entitled to one vote per share. Each share of Class B common stock is entitled to ten votes per share and is convertible at any time into one share of Class A common stock.
Our Class A common stock has been approved for quotation on The Nasdaq National Market under the symbol GOOG, subject to official notice of issuance.
Investing in our Class A common stock involves risks. See Risk Factors beginning on page 4.
Price $ A Share
The selling stockholders have granted the underwriters the right to purchase up to an additional 3,695,498 shares to cover over-allotments.
The price to the public and allocation of shares will be determined by an auction process. The minimum size for a bid in the auction will be five shares of our Class A common stock. The method for submitting bids and a more detailed description of this auction process are included in Auction Process beginning on page 34. As part of this auction process, we are attempting to assess the market demand for our Class A common stock and to set the size and price to the public of this offering to meet that demand. As a result, buyers should not expect to be able to sell their shares for a profit shortly after our Class A common stock begins trading. We will determine the method for allocating shares to bidders who submitted successful bids following the closing of the auction.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and state securities regulators have not approved or disapproved of these securities, or determined if this prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
It is expected that the shares will be delivered to purchasers on or about August , 2004.
You should rely only on the information contained in this prospectus. We have not authorized anyone to provide you with information that is different from that contained in this prospectus. We are offering to sell, and seeking offers to buy, shares of our Class A common stock only in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted. The information in this prospectus is complete and accurate only as of the date of the front cover regardless of the time of delivery of this prospectus or of any sale of shares. Except where the context requires otherwise, in this prospectus, the Company, Google, we, us and our refer to Google Inc., a Delaware corporation, and, where appropriate, its subsidiaries.
We have not undertaken any efforts to qualify this offering for offers to individual investors in any jurisdiction outside the U.S.; therefore, individual investors located outside the U.S. should not expect to be eligible to participate in this offering.
Until , 2004, 25 days after the date of this offering, all dealers that effect transactions in our shares, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to the dealers obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or subscriptions.
This summary highlights information contained elsewhere in this prospectus and does not contain all of the information you should consider in making your investment decision. You should read this summary together with the more detailed information, including our financial statements and the related notes, elsewhere in this prospectus. You should carefully consider, among other things, the matters discussed in Risk Factors.
Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Our innovations in web search and advertising have made our web site a top Internet destination and our brand one of the most recognized in the world. We maintain the worlds largest online index of web sites and other content, and we make this information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. Our automated search technology helps people obtain nearly instant access to relevant information from our vast online index.
We generate revenue by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising. Businesses use our AdWords program to promote their products and services with targeted advertising. In addition, the thousands of third-party web sites that comprise our Google Network use our Google AdSense program to deliver relevant ads that generate revenue and enhance the user experience. Advertisers in our AdWords program pay us a fee each time a user clicks on one of their ads displayed either on our web sites or on the web sites of Google Network members that participate in our AdSense program. When a user clicks on an ad displayed on a web site of a Google Network member, we retain only a small portion of the advertiser fee, while most of the fee is paid to the Google Network member.
Our mission is to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful. We believe that the most effective, and ultimately the most profitable, way to accomplish our mission is to put the needs of our users first. We have found that offering a high-quality user experience leads to increased traffic and strong word-of-mouth promotion. Our dedication to putting users first is reflected in three key commitments we have made to our users:
We believe that our user focus is the foundation of our success to date. We also believe that this focus is critical for the creation of long-term value. We do not intend to compromise our user focus for short-term economic gain.
We were incorporated in California in September 1998. In August 2003, we reincorporated in Delaware. Our principal executive offices are located at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, California 94043, and our telephone number is (650) 623-4000. We maintain a number of web sites including www.google.com. The information on our web sites is not part of this prospectus.
Google® is a registered trademark in the U.S. and several other countries. Our unregistered trademarks include: AdSense, AdWords, Blogger, Froogle, Gmail, Im Feeling Lucky and PageRank. All other trademarks, trade names and service marks appearing in this prospectus are the property of their respective holders.
The number of shares of Class A and Class B common stock that will be outstanding after this offering is based on the number of shares outstanding at June 30, 2004, includes 62,187 shares of Class A common stock that will be sold in the offering by one of our selling stockholders following exercise of a warrant to purchase Class B common stock and conversion of the shares into Class A common stock in connection with the sale, and excludes:
Unless otherwise indicated, all information in this prospectus assumes that the underwriters do not exercise the over-allotment option to purchase 3,695,498 additional shares of Class A common stock in this offering and that all shares of our preferred stock are converted into Class B common stock prior to this offering.
The Auction Process
The auction process being used for our initial public offering differs from methods that have been traditionally used in most other underwritten initial public offerings in the U.S. In particular, the initial public offering price and the allocation of shares will be determined by an auction process conducted by us and our underwriters. For more information about the auction process, see Auction Process.
Summary Consolidated Financial Data
The following table summarizes financial data regarding our business and should be read together with Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
The following table presents a summary of our balance sheet data at June 30, 2004:
An investment in Google involves significant risks. You should read these risk factors carefully before deciding whether to invest in our company. The following is a description of what we consider our key challenges and risks.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
We face significant competition from Microsoft and Yahoo.
We face formidable competition in every aspect of our business, and particularly from other companies that seek to connect people with information on the web and provide them with relevant advertising. Currently, we consider our primary competitors to be Microsoft and Yahoo. Microsoft has announced plans to develop a new web search technology that may make web search a more integrated part of the Windows operating system. We expect that Microsoft will increasingly use its financial and engineering resources to compete with us. Yahoo has become an increasingly significant competitor, having acquired Overture Services, which offers Internet advertising solutions that compete with our AdWords and AdSense programs, as well as the Inktomi, AltaVista and AllTheWeb search engines. Since June 2000, Yahoo has used, to varying degrees, our web search technology on its web site to provide web search services to its users. We have notified Yahoo of our election to terminate our agreement effective July 2004. This agreement with Yahoo accounted for less than 3% of our revenues for the year ended December 31, 2003 and less than 2% of our revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2004.
Both Microsoft and Yahoo have more employees than we do (in Microsofts case, currently more than 20 times as many). Microsoft also has significantly more cash resources than we do. Both of these companies also have longer operating histories and more established relationships with customers. They can use their experience and resources against us in a variety of competitive ways, including by making acquisitions, investing more aggressively in research and development and competing more aggressively for advertisers and web sites. Microsoft and Yahoo also may have a greater ability to attract and retain users than we do because they operate Internet portals with a broad range of products and services. If Microsoft or Yahoo are successful in providing similar or better web search results compared to ours or leverage their platforms to make their web search services easier to access than ours, we could experience a significant decline in user traffic. Any such decline in traffic could negatively affect our revenues.
We face competition from other Internet companies, including web search providers, Internet advertising companies and destination web sites that may also bundle their services with Internet access.
In addition to Microsoft and Yahoo, we face competition from other web search providers, including companies that are not yet known to us. We compete with Internet advertising companies, particularly in the areas of pay-for-performance and keyword-targeted Internet advertising. Also, we may compete with companies that sell products and services online because these companies, like us, are trying to attract users to their web sites to search for information about products and services.
We also compete with destination web sites that seek to increase their search-related traffic. These destination web sites may include those operated by Internet access providers, such as cable and DSL service providers. Because our users need to access our services through Internet access providers, they have direct relationships with these providers. If an access provider or a computer or computing device manufacturer offers online services that compete with ours, the user may find it more convenient to use the services of the access provider or manufacturer. In addition, the access provider or manufacturer may make it hard to access our services by not listing them in the access providers or manufacturers own menu of offerings. Also, because the access provider gathers information from the user in connection with the establishment of a billing relationship, the access provider may be more effective than we are in tailoring services and advertisements to the specific tastes of the user.
There has been a trend toward industry consolidation among our competitors, and so smaller competitors today may become larger competitors in the future. If our competitors are more successful than we are at generating traffic, our revenues may decline.
We face competition from traditional media companies, and we may not be included in the advertising budgets of large advertisers, which could harm our operating results.
In addition to Internet companies, we face competition from companies that offer traditional media advertising opportunities. Most large advertisers have set advertising budgets, a very small portion of which is allocated to Internet advertising. We expect that large advertisers will continue to focus most of their advertising efforts on traditional media. If we fail to convince these companies to spend a portion of their advertising budgets with us, or if our existing advertisers reduce the amount they spend on our programs, our operating results would be harmed.
We expect our growth rates to decline and anticipate downward pressure on our operating margin in the future.
We expect that in the future our revenue growth rate will decline and anticipate that there will be downward pressure on our operating margin. We believe our revenue growth rate will decline as a result of increasing competition and the inevitable decline in growth rates as our revenues increase to higher levels. We believe our operating margin will decline as a result of increasing competition and increased expenditures for all aspects of our business as a percentage of our revenues, including product development and sales and marketing expenses. Our operating margin may decline to the extent the proportion of our revenues generated from our Google Network members increases. The margin on revenue we generate from our Google Network members is generally significantly less than the margin on revenue we generate from advertising on our web sites. Additionally, the margin we earn on revenue generated from our Google Network could decrease in the future if our Google Network members require a greater portion of the advertising fees.
Our operating results may fluctuate, which makes our results difficult to predict and could cause our results to fall short of expectations.
Our operating results may fluctuate as a result of a number of factors, many of which are outside of our control. For these reasons, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful, and you should not rely on our past results as an indication of our future performance. Our quarterly and annual expenses as a percentage of our revenues may be significantly different from our historical or projected rates. Our operating results in future quarters may fall below expectations. Any of these events could cause our stock price to fall. Each of the risk factors listed in this Risk Factors section, and the following factors, may affect our operating results:
Because our business is changing and evolving, our historical operating results may not be useful to you in predicting our future operating results. In addition, advertising spending has historically been cyclical in nature, reflecting overall economic conditions as well as budgeting and buying patterns. For example, in 1999, advertisers spent heavily on Internet advertising. This was followed by a lengthy downturn in ad spending on the web. Also, user traffic tends to be seasonal. Our rapid growth has masked the cyclicality and seasonality of our business. As our growth slows, we expect that the cyclicality and seasonality in our business may become more pronounced and may in the future cause our operating results to fluctuate.
If we do not continue to innovate and provide products and services that are useful to users, we may not remain competitive, and our revenues and operating results could suffer.
Our success depends on providing products and services that people use for a high quality Internet experience. Our competitors are constantly developing innovations in web search, online advertising and providing information to people. As a result, we must continue to invest significant resources in research and development in order to enhance our web search technology and our existing products and services and introduce new high-quality products and services that people will use. If we are unable to predict user preferences or industry changes, or if we are unable to modify our products and services on a timely basis, we may lose users, advertisers and Google Network members. Our operating results would also suffer if our innovations are not responsive to the needs of our users, advertisers and Google Network members, are not appropriately timed with market opportunity or are not effectively brought to market. As search technology continues to develop, our competitors may be able to offer search results that are, or that are perceived to be, substantially similar or better than those generated by our search services. This may force us to compete on bases in addition to quality of search results and to expend significant resources in order to remain competitive.
We generate our revenue almost entirely from advertising, and the reduction in spending by or loss of advertisers could seriously harm our business.
We generated approximately 97% of our revenues in 2003 and 98% of our revenues in the six months ended June 30, 2004 from our advertisers. Our advertisers can generally terminate their contracts with us at any time. Advertisers will not continue to do business with us if their investment in advertising with us does not generate sales leads, and ultimately customers, or if we do not deliver their advertisements in an appropriate and effective manner. If we are unable to remain competitive and provide value to our advertisers, they may stop placing ads with us, which would negatively affect our revenues and business.
We rely on our Google Network members for a significant portion of our revenues, and otherwise benefit from our association with them. The loss of these members could prevent us from receiving the benefits we receive from our association with these Google Network members, which could adversely affect our business.
We provide advertising, web search and other services to members of our Google Network. The revenues generated from the fees advertisers pay us when users click on ads that we have delivered to our Google Network members web sites represented approximately 43% of our revenues in 2003, and approximately 50% of our revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2004. We consider this network to be critical to the future growth of our revenues. However, some of the participants in this network may compete with us in one or more areas. Therefore, they may decide in the future to terminate their agreements with us. If our Google Network members decide to use a competitors or their own web search or advertising services, our revenues would decline.
Our agreements with a few of the largest Google Network members account for a significant portion of revenues derived from our AdSense program. In addition, advertising fees generated from one Google Network member primarily through our AdSense program accounted for approximately 15%, 16% and 13% of our revenues in 2002, 2003 and in the six months ended June 30, 2004. Also, certain of our key network members operate high-profile web sites, and we derive tangible and intangible benefits from this affiliation. If one or more of these key relationships is terminated or not renewed, and is not replaced with a comparable relationship, our business would be adversely affected.
Our business and operations are experiencing rapid growth. If we fail to effectively manage our growth, our business and operating results could be harmed and we may have to incur significant expenditures to address the additional operational and control requirements of this growth.
We have experienced, and continue to experience, rapid growth in our headcount and operations, which has placed, and will continue to place, significant demands on our management, operational and financial infrastructure. If we do not effectively manage our growth, the quality of our products and services could suffer, which could negatively affect our brand and operating results. To effectively manage this growth, we will need to continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls and our reporting systems and procedures. These systems enhancements and improvements will require significant capital expenditures and allocation of valuable management resources. If the improvements are not implemented successfully, our ability to manage our growth will be impaired and we may have to make significant additional expenditures to address these issues, which could harm our financial position. The required improvements include:
If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, current and potential stockholders could lose confidence in our financial reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our stock.
Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and effectively prevent fraud. If we cannot provide reliable financial reports or prevent fraud, our brand and operating results could be harmed. We have in the past discovered, and may in the future discover, areas of our internal controls that need improvement. For example, during our 2002 audit, our external auditors brought to our attention a need to increase restrictions on employee access to our advertising system and automate more of our financial processes. The auditors identified these issues together as a reportable condition, which means that these were matters that in the auditors judgment could adversely affect our ability to record, process, summarize and report financial data consistent with the assertions of management in the financial statements. In 2003, we devoted significant resources to remediate and improve our internal controls. Although we believe that these efforts have strengthened our internal controls and addressed the concerns that gave rise to the reportable condition in 2002, we are continuing to work to improve our internal controls, including in the areas of access and security. We cannot be certain that these measures will ensure that we implement and maintain adequate controls over our financial processes and reporting in the future. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation, could harm our operating results or cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our stock.
We intend to migrate critical financial functions to a third-party provider. If this potential transition is not successful, our business and operations could be disrupted and our operating results would be harmed.
We have entered into an arrangement to transfer our worldwide billing, collection and credit evaluation functions to a third-party service provider; however, we cannot be sure that the arrangement will be completed and implemented. The third-party provider will also track, on an automated basis, a majority of our growing number of AdSense revenue share agreements. These functions are critical to our operations and involve sensitive interactions between us and our advertisers and members of our Google Network. If we do not successfully implement this project, our business, reputation and operating results could be harmed. We have no experience managing and implementing this type of large-scale, cross-functional, international infrastructure project. We also may not be able to integrate our systems and processes with those of the third-party service provider on a timely basis, or at all. Even if this integration is completed on time, the service provider may not perform to agreed upon service levels. Failure of the service provider to perform satisfactorily could result in customer dissatisfaction, disrupt our operations and adversely affect operating results. We will have significantly less control over the systems and processes than if we maintained and operated them ourselves, which increases our risk. If we need to find an alternative source for performing these functions, we may have to expend significant resources in doing so, and we cannot guarantee this would be accomplished in a timely manner or without significant additional disruption to our business.
Our business depends on a strong brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our ability to expand our base of users, advertisers and Google Network members will be impaired and our business and operating results will be harmed.
We believe that the brand identity that we have developed has significantly contributed to the success of our business. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing the Google brand is critical to expanding our base of users, advertisers and Google Network members. Maintaining and enhancing our brand may require us to make substantial investments and these investments may not be successful. If we fail to promote and maintain the Google brand, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our business, operating results and financial condition will be materially and adversely affected. We anticipate that, as our market becomes increasingly competitive, maintaining and enhancing our brand may become increasingly difficult and expensive. Maintaining and enhancing our brand will depend largely on our ability to be a technology leader and to continue to provide high quality products and services, which we may not do successfully. To date, we have engaged in relatively little direct brand promotion activities. This enhances the risk that we may not successfully implement brand enhancement efforts in the future.
People have in the past expressed, and may in the future express, objections to aspects of our products. For example, people have raised privacy concerns relating to the ability of our recently announced Gmail email service to match relevant ads to the content of email messages. Some people have also reacted negatively to the fact that our search technology can be used to help people find hateful or derogatory information on the web. Aspects of our future products may raise similar public concerns. Publicity regarding such concerns could harm our brand. In addition, members of the Google Network and other third parties may take actions that could impair the value of our brand. We are aware that third parties, from time to time, use Google and similar variations in their domain names without our approval, and our brand may be harmed if users and advertisers associate these domains with us.
Proprietary document formats may limit the effectiveness of our search technology by preventing our technology from accessing the content of documents in such formats which could limit the effectiveness of our products and services.
An increasing amount of information on the Internet is provided in proprietary document formats such as Microsoft Word. The providers of the software application used to create these documents could engineer the document format to prevent or interfere with our ability to access the document contents with our search
technology. This would mean that the document contents would not be included in our search results even if the contents were directly relevant to a search. These types of activities could assist our competitors or diminish the value of our search results. The software providers may also seek to require us to pay them royalties in exchange for giving us the ability to search documents in their format. If the software provider also competes with us in the search business, they may give their search technology a preferential ability to search documents in their proprietary format. Any of these results could harm our brand and our operating results.
New technologies could block our ads, which would harm our business.
Technologies may be developed that can block the display of our ads. Most of our revenues are derived from fees paid to us by advertisers in connection with the display of ads on web pages. As a result, ad-blocking technology could, in the future, adversely affect our operating results.
Our corporate culture has contributed to our success, and if we cannot maintain this culture as we grow, we could lose the innovation, creativity and teamwork fostered by our culture, and our business may be harmed.
We believe that a critical contributor to our success has been our corporate culture, which we believe fosters innovation, creativity and teamwork. As our organization grows, and we are required to implement more complex organizational management structures, we may find it increasingly difficult to maintain the beneficial aspects of our corporate culture. This could negatively impact our future success. In addition, this offering may create disparities in wealth among Google employees, which may adversely impact relations among employees and our corporate culture in general.
Our intellectual property rights are valuable, and any inability to protect them could reduce the value of our products, services and brand.
Our patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and all of our other intellectual property rights are important assets for us. There are events that are outside of our control that pose a threat to our intellectual property rights. For example, effective intellectual property protection may not be available in every country in which our products and services are distributed or made available through the Internet. Also, the efforts we have taken to protect our proprietary rights may not be sufficient or effective. Any significant impairment of our intellectual property rights could harm our business or our ability to compete. Also, protecting our intellectual property rights is costly and time consuming. Any increase in the unauthorized use of our intellectual property could make it more expensive to do business and harm our operating results.
We seek to obtain patent protection for our innovations. It is possible, however, that some of these innovations may not be protectable. In addition, given the costs of obtaining patent protection, we may choose not to protect certain innovations that later turn out to be important. Furthermore, there is always the possibility, despite our efforts, that the scope of the protection gained will be insufficient or that an issued patent may be deemed invalid or unenforceable.
We also face risks associated with our trademarks. For example, there is a risk that the word Google could become so commonly used that it becomes synonymous with the word search. If this happens, we could lose protection for this trademark, which could result in other people using the word Google to refer to their own products, thus diminishing our brand.
We also seek to maintain certain intellectual property as trade secrets. The secrecy could be compromised by third parties, or intentionally or accidentally by our employees, which would cause us to lose the competitive advantage resulting from these trade secrets.
We are, and may in the future be, subject to intellectual property rights claims, which are costly to defend, could require us to pay damages and could limit our ability to use certain technologies in the future.
Companies in the Internet, technology and media industries own large numbers of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets and frequently enter into litigation based on allegations of infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights. As we face increasing competition, the possibility of intellectual property rights claims against us grows. Our technologies may not be able to withstand any third-party claims or rights against their use. Any intellectual property claims, with or without merit, could be time-consuming, expensive to litigate or settle and could divert management resources and attention. In addition, many of our agreements with members of our Google Network require us to indemnify these members for third-party intellectual property infringement claims, which would increase our costs as a result of defending such claims and may require that we pay damages if there were an adverse ruling in any such claims. An adverse determination also could prevent us from offering our products and services to others and may require that we procure substitute products or services for these members.
With respect to any intellectual property rights claim, we may have to pay damages or stop using technology found to be in violation of a third partys rights. We may have to seek a license for the technology, which may not be available on reasonable terms and may significantly increase our operating expenses. The technology also may not be available for license to us at all. As a result, we may also be required to develop alternative non-infringing technology, which could require significant effort and expense. If we cannot license or develop technology for the infringing aspects of our business, we may be forced to limit our product and service offerings and may be unable to compete effectively. Any of these results could harm our brand and operating results.
From time to time, we receive notice letters from patent holders alleging that certain of our products and services infringe their patent rights. Some of these have resulted in litigation against us. For example, Overture Services (now owned by Yahoo) has sued us, claiming that the Google AdWords program infringes certain claims of an Overture Services patent. It also claims that the patent relates to Overture Services own bid-for-ad placement business model and its pay-for-performance technologies. We are currently litigating this case. If Overture Services wins, it may significantly limit our ability to use the AdWords program, and we also may be required to pay damages.
Companies have also filed trademark infringement and related claims against us over the display of ads in response to user queries that include trademark terms. The outcomes of these lawsuits have differed from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A court in France has held us liable for allowing advertisers to select certain trademarked terms as keywords. We have appealed this decision. We were also subject to two lawsuits in Germany on similar matters where one court preliminarily reached a similar conclusion as the court in France, while another court held that we are not liable for the actions of our advertisers prior to notification of trademark rights. We are litigating similar issues in other cases in the U.S., France, Germany and Italy.
In order to provide users with more useful ads, we have recently revised our trademark policy in the U.S. and Canada. Under our new policy, we no longer disable ads due to selection by our advertisers of trademarks as keyword triggers for the ads. As a result of this change in policy, we may be subject to more trademark infringement lawsuits. Defending these lawsuits could take time and resources. Adverse results in these lawsuits may result in, or even compel, a change in this practice which could result in a loss of revenue for us, which could harm our business.
We have also been notified by third parties that they believe features of certain of our products, including Google WebSearch, Google News and Google Image Search, violate their copyrights. Generally speaking, any time that we have a product or service that links to or hosts material in which others allege to own copyrights, we face the risk of being sued for copyright infringement or related claims. Because these products and services comprise the majority of our products and services, the risk of potential harm from such lawsuits is substantial.
Expansion into international markets is important to our long-term success, and our inexperience in the operation of our business outside the U.S. increases the risk that our international expansion efforts will not be successful.
We opened our first office outside the U.S. in 2001 and have only limited experience with operations outside the U.S. Expansion into international markets requires management attention and resources. In addition, we face the following additional risks associated with our expansion outside the U.S.:
These risks could harm our international expansion efforts, which would in turn harm our business and operating results.
We compete internationally with local information providers and with U.S. competitors who are currently more successful than we are in various markets, and if we fail to compete effectively in international markets, our business will be harmed.
We face different market characteristics and competition outside the U.S. In certain markets, other web search, advertising services and Internet companies have greater brand recognition, more users and more search traffic than we have. Even in countries where we have a significant user following, we may not be as successful in generating advertising revenue due to slower market development, our inability to provide attractive local advertising services or other factors. In order to compete, we need to improve our brand recognition and our selling efforts internationally and build stronger relationships with advertisers. We also need to better understand our international users and their preferences. If we fail to do so, our global expansion efforts may be more costly and less profitable than we expect.
Our business may be adversely affected by malicious third-party applications that interfere with our receipt of information from, and provision of information to, our users, which may impair our users experience with our products and services.
Our business may be adversely affected by malicious applications that make changes to our users computers and interfere with the Google experience. These applications have in the past attempted, and may in the future attempt, to change our users Internet experience, including hijacking queries to Google.com, altering or replacing Google search results, or otherwise interfering with our ability to connect with our users. The interference often occurs without disclosure to or consent from users, resulting in a negative experience that users may associate with Google. These applications may be difficult or impossible to uninstall or disable, may reinstall themselves and may circumvent other applications efforts to block or remove them. The ability to reach users and provide them with a superior experience is critical to our success. If our efforts to combat these malicious applications are unsuccessful, our reputation may be harmed, and our communications with certain users could be impaired. This could result in a decline in user traffic and associated ad revenues, which would damage our business.
If we fail to detect click-through fraud, we could lose the confidence of our advertisers, thereby causing our business to suffer.
We are exposed to the risk of fraudulent clicks on our ads by persons seeking to increase the advertising fees paid to our Google Network members. We have regularly refunded revenue that our advertisers have paid to us and that was later attributed to click-through fraud, and we expect to do so in the future. Click-through fraud occurs when a person clicks on a Google AdWords ad displayed on a web site in order to generate the revenue share payment to the Google Network member rather than to view the underlying content. If we are unable to stop this fraudulent activity, these refunds may increase. If we find new evidence of past fraudulent clicks we may have to issue refunds retroactively of amounts previously paid to our Google Network members. This would negatively affect our profitability, and these types of fraudulent activities could hurt our brand. If fraudulent clicks are not detected, the affected advertisers may experience a reduced return on their investment in our advertising programs because the fraudulent clicks will not lead to potential revenue for the advertisers. This could lead the advertisers to become dissatisfied with our advertising programs, which could lead to loss of advertisers and revenue.
Index spammers could harm the integrity of our web search results, which could damage our reputation and cause our users to be dissatisfied with our products and services.
There is an ongoing and increasing effort by index spammers to develop ways to manipulate our web search results. For example, because our web search technology ranks a web pages relevance based in part on the importance of the web sites that link to it, people have attempted to link a group of web sites together to manipulate web search results. We take this problem very seriously because providing relevant information to users is critical to our success. If our efforts to combat these and other types of index spamming are unsuccessful, our reputation for delivering relevant information could be diminished. This could result in a decline in user traffic, which would damage our business.
Privacy concerns relating to elements of our technology could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our products and services.
From time to time, concerns may be expressed about whether our products and services compromise the privacy of users and others. Concerns about our collection, use or sharing of personal information or other privacy-related matters, even if unfounded, could damage our reputation and operating results. Recently, several groups have raised privacy concerns in connection with our Gmail free email service which we announced in April 2004 and these concerns have attracted a significant amount of public commentary and attention. The concerns relate principally to the fact that Gmail uses computers to match advertisements to the content of a users email message when email messages are viewed using the Gmail service. Privacy concerns have also arisen with our products that provide improved access to personal information that is already publicly available, but that we have made more readily accessible by the public.
Our business is subject to a variety of U.S. and foreign laws, which could subject us to claims or other remedies based on the nature and content of the information searched or displayed by our products and services, and could limit our ability to provide information regarding regulated industries and products.
The laws relating to the liability of providers of online services for activities of their users are currently unsettled both within the U.S. and abroad. Claims have been threatened and filed under both U.S. and foreign law for defamation, libel, invasion of privacy and other data protection claims, tort, unlawful activity, copyright or trademark infringement, or other theories based on the nature and content of the materials searched and the ads posted or the content generated by our users. From time to time we have received notices from individuals who do not want their names or web sites to appear in our web search results when certain keywords are searched. It is also possible that we could be held liable for misinformation provided over the web when that information appears in our web search results. If one of these complaints results in liability to us, it could be potentially costly, encourage similar lawsuits, distract management and harm our reputation and possibly our business. In
addition, increased attention focused on these issues and legislative proposals could harm our reputation or otherwise affect the growth of our business.
The application to us of existing laws regulating or requiring licenses for certain businesses of our advertisers, including, for example, distribution of pharmaceuticals, adult content, financial services, alcohol or firearms, can be unclear. Existing or new legislation could expose us to substantial liability, restrict our ability to deliver services to our users, limit our ability to grow and cause us to incur significant expenses in order to comply with such laws and regulations.
Several other federal laws could have an impact on our business. Compliance with these laws and regulations is complex and may impose significant additional costs on us. For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has provisions that limit, but do not eliminate, our liability for listing or linking to third-party web sites that include materials that infringe copyrights or other rights, so long as we comply with the statutory requirements of this act. The Childrens Online Protection Act and the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act restrict the distribution of materials considered harmful to children and impose additional restrictions on the ability of online services to collect information from minors. In addition, the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998 requires online service providers to report evidence of violations of federal child pornography laws under certain circumstances. Any failure on our part to comply with these regulations may subject us to additional liabilities.
We also face risks associated with international data protection. The interpretation and application of data protection laws in Europe and elsewhere are still uncertain and in flux. It is possible that these laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our data practices. If so, in addition to the possibility of fines, this could result in an order requiring that we change our data practices, which in turn could have a material effect on our business.
We also face risks from legislation that could be passed in the future. For example, at least two states have introduced legislation that could interfere with or prohibit our Gmail free advertising-supported email service that was recently announced as a test service. The legislation, as originally proposed in California and Massachusetts, would make it more difficult for us to operate or would prohibit the aspects of the service that uses computers to match advertisements to the content of a users email message when email messages are viewed using the Gmail service. While the California legislation has been modified since being introduced so that it does not inhibit the operation of the Gmail service, the legislation has not been finally adopted. If this legislation is adopted as originally introduced, or other similar legislation is adopted, it could prevent us from implementing the Gmail service in the affected states. This could impair our ability to compete in the email services market.
If we were to lose the services of Eric, Larry, Sergey or our senior management team, we may not be able to execute our business strategy.
Our future success depends in a large part upon the continued service of key members of our senior management team. In particular, our CEO Eric Schmidt and our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are critical to the overall management of Google as well as the development of our technology, our culture and our strategic direction. All of our executive officers and key employees are at-will employees, and we do not maintain any key-person life insurance policies. The loss of any of our management or key personnel could seriously harm our business.
The initial option grants to many of our senior management and key employees are fully vested. Therefore, these employees may not have sufficient financial incentive to stay with us, we may have to incur costs to replace key employees that leave, and our ability to execute our business model could be impaired if we cannot replace departing employees in a timely manner.
Many of our senior management personnel and other key employees have become, or will soon become, substantially vested in their initial stock option grants. While we often grant additional stock options to
management personnel and other key employees after their hire dates to provide additional incentives to remain employed by us, their initial grants are usually much larger than follow-on grants. Employees may be more likely to leave us after their initial option grant fully vests, especially if the shares underlying the options have significantly appreciated in value relative to the option exercise price. We have not given any additional grants to Eric, Larry or Sergey. Larry and Sergey are fully vested, and only a small portion of Erics stock is subject to future vesting. If any members of our senior management team leave the company, our ability to successfully operate our business could be impaired. We also may have to incur significant costs in identifying, hiring, training and retaining replacements for departing employees.
We rely on highly skilled personnel and, if we are unable to retain or motivate key personnel or hire qualified personnel, we may not be able to grow effectively.
Our performance is largely dependent on the talents and efforts of highly skilled individuals. Our future success depends on our continuing ability to identify, hire, develop, motivate and retain highly skilled personnel for all areas of our organization. Competition in our industry for qualified employees is intense, and we are aware that certain of our competitors have directly targeted our employees. Our continued ability to compete effectively depends on our ability to attract new employees and to retain and motivate our existing employees.
We have in the past maintained a rigorous, highly selective and time-consuming hiring process. We believe that our approach to hiring has significantly contributed to our success to date. As we grow, our hiring process may prevent us from hiring the personnel we need in a timely manner. In addition, as we become a more mature company, we may find our recruiting efforts more challenging. The incentives to attract, retain and motivate employees provided by our option grants or by future arrangements, such as through cash bonuses, may not be as effective as in the past. If we do not succeed in attracting excellent personnel or retaining or motivating existing personnel, we may be unable to grow effectively.
Our CEO and our two founders run the business and affairs of the company collectively, which may harm their ability to manage effectively.
Eric, our CEO, and Larry and Sergey, our founders and presidents, currently provide leadership to the company as a team. Our bylaws provide that our CEO and our presidents will together have general supervision, direction and control of the company, subject to the control of our board of directors. As a result, Eric, Larry and Sergey tend to operate the company collectively and to consult extensively with each other before significant decisions are made. This may slow the decision-making process, and a disagreement among these individuals could prevent key strategic decisions from being made in a timely manner. In the event our CEO and our two founders are unable to continue to work well together in providing cohesive leadership, our business could be harmed.
We have a short operating history and a relatively new business model in an emerging and rapidly evolving market. This makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects, may increase the risk that we will not continue to be successful and increases the risk of your investment.
We first derived revenue from our online search business in 1999 and from our advertising services in 2000, and we have only a short operating history with our cost-per-click advertising model, which we launched in 2002. As a result, we have very little operating history for you to evaluate in assessing our future prospects. Also, we derive nearly all of our revenues from online advertising, which is an immature industry that has undergone rapid and dramatic changes in its short history. You must consider our business and prospects in light of the risks and difficulties we will encounter as an early-stage company in a new and rapidly evolving market. We may not be able to successfully address these risks and difficulties, which could materially harm our business and operating results.
We may have difficulty scaling and adapting our existing architecture to accommodate increased traffic and technology advances or changing business requirements, which could lead to the loss of users, advertisers and Google Network members, and cause us to incur expenses to make architectural changes.
To be successful, our network infrastructure has to perform well and be reliable. The greater the user traffic and the greater the complexity of our products and services, the more computing power we will need. In 2004, we expect to spend substantial amounts to purchase or lease data centers and equipment and to upgrade our technology and network infrastructure to handle increased traffic on our web sites and to roll out new products and services. This expansion is going to be expensive and complex and could result in inefficiencies or operational failures. If we do not implement this expansion successfully, or if we experience inefficiencies and operational failures during the implementation, the quality of our products and services and our users experience could decline. This could damage our reputation and lead us to lose current and potential users, advertisers and Google Network members. The costs associated with these adjustments to our architecture could harm our operating results. Cost increases, loss of traffic or failure to accommodate new technologies or changing business requirements could harm our operating results and financial condition.
We rely on bandwidth providers, data centers or other third parties for key aspects of the process of providing products and services to our users, and any failure or interruption in the services and products provided by these third parties could harm our ability to operate our business and damage our reputation.
We rely on third-party vendors, including data center and bandwidth providers. Any disruption in the network access or co-location services provided by these third-party providers or any failure of these third-party providers to handle current or higher volumes of use could significantly harm our business. Any financial or other difficulties our providers face may have negative effects on our business, the nature and extent of which we cannot predict. We exercise little control over these third party vendors, which increases our vulnerability to problems with the services they provide. We license technology and related databases from third parties to facilitate aspects of our data center and connectivity operations including, among others, Internet traffic management services. We have experienced and expect to continue to experience interruptions and delays in service and availability for such elements. Any errors, failures, interruptions or delays experienced in connection with these third-party technologies and information services could negatively impact our relationship with users and adversely affect our brand and our business and could expose us to liabilities to third parties.
Our systems are also heavily reliant on the availability of electricity, which also comes from third-party providers. If we were to experience a major power outage, we would have to rely on back-up generators. These back-up generators may not operate properly through a major power outage and their fuel supply could also be inadequate during a major power outage. This could result in a disruption of our business.
Interruption or failure of our information technology and communications systems could impair our ability to effectively provide our products and services, which could damage our reputation and harm our operating results.
Our provision of our products and services depends on the continuing operation of our information technology and communications systems. Any damage to or failure of our systems could result in interruptions in our service. Interruptions in our service could reduce our revenues and profits, and our brand could be damaged if people believe our system is unreliable. Our systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, terrorist attacks, floods, fires, power loss, telecommunications failures, computer viruses, computer denial of service attacks or other attempts to harm our systems, and similar events. Some of our data centers are located in areas with a high risk of major earthquakes. Our data centers are also subject to break-ins, sabotage and intentional acts of vandalism, and to potential disruptions if the operators of these facilities have financial difficulties. Some of our systems are not fully redundant, and our disaster recovery planning cannot account for all eventualities. The occurrence of a natural disaster, a decision to close a facility we are using without adequate notice for financial reasons or other unanticipated problems at our data centers could result in lengthy interruptions in our service.
We have experienced system failures in the past and may in the future. For example, in November 2003 we failed to provide web search results for approximately 20% of our traffic for a period of about 30 minutes. Any unscheduled interruption in our service puts a burden on our entire organization and would result in an immediate loss of revenue. If we experience frequent or persistent system failures on our web sites, our reputation and brand could be permanently harmed. The steps we have taken to increase the reliability and redundancy of our systems are expensive, reduce our operating margin and may not be successful in reducing the frequency or duration of unscheduled downtime.
More individuals are using non-PC devices to access the Internet, and versions of our web search technology developed for these devices may not be widely adopted by users of these devices.
The number of people who access the Internet through devices other than personal computers, including mobile telephones, hand-held calendaring and email assistants, and television set-top devices, has increased dramatically in the past few years. The lower resolution, functionality and memory associated with alternative devices make the use of our products and services through such devices difficult. If we are unable to attract and retain a substantial number of alternative device users to our web search services or if we are slow to develop products and technologies that are more compatible with non-PC communications devices, we will fail to capture a significant share of an increasingly important portion of the market for online services.
If we account for employee stock options using the fair value method, it could significantly reduce our net income.
There has been ongoing public debate whether stock options granted to employees should be treated as a compensation expense and, if so, how to properly value such charges. On March 31, 2004, the Financial Accounting Standard Board (FASB) issued an Exposure Draft, Share-Based Payment: an amendment of FASB Statements No. 123 and 95, which would require a company to recognize, as an expense, the fair value of stock options and other stock-based compensation to employees beginning in 2005 and subsequent reporting periods. Currently, we record deferred stock-based compensation to the extent that the reassessed value for accounting purposes of the stock on the date of grant exceeds the exercise price of the option. We recognize compensation expense as we amortize the deferred stock-based compensation amounts on an accelerated basis over the related vesting periods. If we had used the fair value method of accounting for stock options granted to employees prior to July 1, 2004 using a Black Scholes option valuation formula, our net income would have been $2.4 million less than reported in the year ended December 31, 2003 and $2.8 million less than reported in the six months ended June 30, 2004. If we elect or are required to record an expense for our stock-based compensation plans using the fair value method as described in the Exposure Draft, we could have on-going accounting charges significantly greater than those we would have recorded under our current method of accounting for stock options. See Note 1 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this prospectus for a more detailed presentation of accounting for stock-based compensation plans.
Payments to certain of our Google Network members has exceeded the related fees we receive from our advertisers.
We have entered into, and may continue to enter into, minimum fee guarantee agreements with a small number of Google Network members. In these agreements, we promise to make minimum payments to the Google Networks member for a pre-negotiated period of time, typically from three months to a year or more. It is difficult to forecast with certainty the fees that we will earn under our agreements, and sometimes the fees we earn fall short of the minimum guarantee payment amounts. Also, increasing competition for arrangements with web sites that are potential Google Network members could result in our entering into more of these minimum fee guarantee agreements under which guaranteed payments exceed the fees we receive from advertisers whose ads we place on those Google Network member sites. In each period to date, the aggregate fees we have earned under these agreements have exceeded the aggregate amounts we have been obligated to pay to the Google Network members. However, individual agreements have resulted in guaranteed minimum
and other payments to a Google Network member in excess of the related fees we receive from advertisers. In 2003, we recognized $22.5 million in cost of revenues related to such payments in excess of revenues for such agreements. In the six months ended June 30, 2004, we recognized $18.2 million in cost of revenues related to such payments in excess of revenues for such agreements. At December 31, 2003 and June 30, 2004, our aggregate outstanding minimum guarantee commitments totaled approximately $477.0 million and $369.4 million. These commitments expire between 2004 and 2007. We may recognize cost of revenues related to payments to certain Google Network members in excess of the related fees we receive from advertisers in the future in connection with certain AdSense agreements, which could adversely affect our profitability.
To the extent our revenues are paid in foreign currencies, and currency exchange rates become unfavorable, we may lose some of the economic value of the revenues in U.S. dollar terms.
As we expand our international operations, more of our customers may pay us in foreign currencies. Conducting business in currencies other than U.S. dollars subjects us to fluctuations in currency exchange rates. If the currency exchange rates were to change unfavorably, the value of net receivables we receive in foreign currencies and later convert to U.S. dollars after the unfavorable change would be diminished. This could have a negative impact on our reported operating results. Hedging strategies, such as forward contracts, options and foreign exchange swaps related to transaction exposures, that we may implement to mitigate this risk may not eliminate our exposure to foreign exchange fluctuations. Additionally, hedging programs expose us to risks that could adversely affect our operating results, including the following:
We rely on insurance to mitigate some risks and, to the extent the cost of insurance increases or we are unable to maintain sufficient insurance to mitigate the risks, our operating results may be diminished.
We contract for insurance to cover potential risks and liabilities. In the current environment, insurance companies are increasingly specific about what they will and will not insure. It is possible that we may not be able to get enough insurance to meet our needs, may have to pay very high prices for the coverage we do get or may not be able to acquire any insurance for certain types of business risk. This could leave us exposed to potential claims. If we were found liable for a significant claim in the future, our operating results could be negatively impacted. Also, to the extent the cost of maintaining insurance increases, our operating results will be negatively affected.
Acquisitions could result in operating difficulties, dilution and other harmful consequences.
We do not have a great deal of experience acquiring companies and the companies we have acquired have been small. We have evaluated, and expect to continue to evaluate, a wide array of potential strategic transactions. From time to time, we may engage in discussions regarding potential acquisitions. Any of these transactions could be material to our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, the process of integrating an acquired company, business or technology may create unforeseen operating difficulties and expenditures and is risky. The areas where we may face risks include:
Foreign acquisitions involve unique risks in addition to those mentioned above, including those related to integration of operations across different cultures and languages, currency risks and the particular economic, political and regulatory risks associated with specific countries. Also, the anticipated benefit of many of our acquisitions may not materialize. Future acquisitions or dispositions could result in potentially dilutive issuances of our equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities or amortization expenses, or write-offs of goodwill, any of which could harm our financial condition. Future acquisitions may require us to obtain additional equity or debt financing, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all.
We occasionally become subject to commercial disputes that could harm our business by distracting our management from the operation of our business, by increasing our expenses and, if we do not prevail, by subjecting us to potential monetary damages and other remedies.
From time to time we are engaged in disputes regarding our commercial transactions. These disputes could result in monetary damages or other remedies that could adversely impact our financial position or operations. Even if we prevail in these disputes, they may distract our management from operating our business and the cost of defending these disputes would reduce our operating results.
We have to keep up with rapid technological change to remain competitive in our rapidly evolving industry.
Our future success will depend on our ability to adapt to rapidly changing technologies, to adapt our services to evolving industry standards and to improve the performance and reliability of our services. Our failure to adapt to such changes would harm our business. New technologies and advertising media could adversely affect us. In addition, the widespread adoption of new Internet, networking or telecommunications technologies or other technological changes could require substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our services or infrastructure.
Our business depends on increasing use of the Internet by users searching for information, advertisers marketing products and services and web sites seeking to earn revenue to support their web content. If the Internet infrastructure does not grow and is not maintained to support these activities, our business will be harmed.
Our success will depend on the continued growth and maintenance of the Internet infrastructure. This includes maintenance of a reliable network backbone with the necessary speed, data capacity and security for providing reliable Internet services. Internet infrastructure may be unable to support the demands placed on it if the number of Internet users continues to increase, or if existing or future Internet users access the Internet more often or increase their bandwidth requirements. In addition, viruses, worms and similar programs may harm the performance of the Internet. The Internet has experienced a variety of outages and other delays as a result of damage to portions of its infrastructure, and it could face outages and delays in the future. These outages and delays could reduce the level of Internet usage as well as our ability to provide our solutions.
Shares issued and options granted under our stock plans exceeded limitations in federal and state securities laws, the result of which is that the holders of these shares and/or options have rescission rights that could require us to reacquire the shares and/or options for an aggregate repurchase price of up to $25.9 million.
Shares issued and options granted under our 1998 Stock Plan and our 2003 Stock Plan were not exempt from registration or qualification under federal and state securities laws and we did not obtain the required registrations or qualifications. Shares issued and options granted under our 2003 Stock Plan (No. 2) and our 2003 Stock Plan (No. 3) were not exempt from registration or qualification under federal securities laws and we did not obtain the required registrations or qualifications. As a result, we intend to make a rescission offer to the holders of these shares and options as soon as practicable after the completion of the offering of our Class A common stock and, in any event within 30 days of the effective date of this registration statement, assuming the offering has been completed at such time. If this rescission offer is accepted, we could be required to make aggregate payments to the holders of these shares and options of up to $25.9 million, which includes statutory interest. For options, this exposure reflects the costs of offering to rescind the issuance of the outstanding options by paying an amount equal to 20% of the aggregate exercise price for the entire option, plus statutory interest. However, it is possible that an optionholder could argue that this does not represent an adequate remedy for the issuance of the option in violation of applicable securities laws, and if a court were to impose a greater remedy, our exposure as a result of the rescission offer could be higher. For issuances of common stock, this exposure is calculated by reference to the acquisition price of the common stock, plus statutory interest. Federal securities laws do not expressly provide that a rescission offer will terminate a purchasers right to rescind a sale of stock that was not registered as required or was not otherwise exempt from such registration requirements. If any or all of the offerees reject the rescission offer, we may continue to be liable under federal and state securities laws for up to an amount equal to the value of all options and common stock granted or issued since September 2001 plus any statutory interest we may be required to pay. See Rescission Offer.
Risks Related to the Auction Process for Our Offering
Our stock price could decline rapidly and significantly.
Our initial public offering price will be determined by an auction process conducted by us and our underwriters. We believe this auction process will provide information with respect to the market demand for our Class A common stock at the time of our initial public offering. However, this information may have no relation to market demand for our Class A common stock once trading begins. We expect that the bidding process will reveal a clearing price for shares of our Class A common stock offered in the auction. The auction clearing price is the highest price at which all of the shares offered (including shares subject to the underwriters over-allotment option) may be sold to potential investors. Although we and our underwriters may elect to set the initial public offering price below the auction clearing price, we intend to set an initial public offering price that is equal to the clearing price. If there is little or no demand for our shares at or above the initial public offering price once trading begins, the price of our shares would decline following our initial public offering.
The auction process for our public offering may result in a phenomenon known as the winners curse, and, as a result, investors may experience significant losses.
The auction process for our initial public offering may result in a phenomenon known as the winners curse. At the conclusion of the auction, bidders that receive allocations of shares in this offering (successful bidders) may infer that there is little incremental demand for our shares above or equal to the initial public offering price. As a result, successful bidders may conclude that they paid too much for our shares and could seek to immediately sell their shares to limit their losses should our stock price decline. In this situation, other investors that did not submit successful bids may wait for this selling to be completed, resulting in reduced demand for our Class A common stock in the public market and a significant decline in our stock price. Therefore, we caution investors that submitting successful bids and receiving allocations may be followed by a significant decline in the value of their investment in our Class A common stock shortly after our offering.
The auction process for our initial public offering may result in a situation in which less price sensitive investors play a larger role in the determination of our offering price and constitute a larger portion of the investors in our offering, and, therefore, the offering price may not be sustainable once trading of our Class A common stock begins.
In a typical initial public offering, a majority of the shares sold to the public are purchased by professional investors that have significant experience in determining valuations for companies in connection with initial public offerings. These professional investors typically have access to, or conduct their own independent, research and analysis regarding investments in initial public offerings. Other investors typically have less access to this level of research and analysis, and as a result, may be less sensitive to price in participating in our auction process. Because of our auction process and the broad consumer awareness of Google, these less price sensitive investors may have a greater influence in setting our initial public offering price and may have a higher level of participation in our offering than is normal for initial public offerings. This, in turn, could cause our auction process to result in an initial public offering price that is higher than the prices professional investors are willing to pay. As a result, our stock price may decrease once trading of our Class A common stock begins. Also, because professional investors may have a substantial degree of influence on the trading price of our shares over time, the price of our Class A common stock may decline after our offering. Further, if our initial public offering price is above the level that investors determine is reasonable for our shares, some investors may attempt to short the stock after trading begins, which would create additional downward pressure on the trading price of our Class A common stock.
Successful bidders should not expect to sell our shares for a profit shortly after our Class A common stock begins trading.
During the bidding process, we and our managing underwriters will monitor the master order book to evaluate the demand that exists for our initial public offering. Based on this information, we and our underwriters may revise the price range for our initial public offering set forth on the cover of this prospectus. In addition, we and the selling stockholders may decide to change the number of shares of Class A common stock offered through this prospectus. These increases in the initial public offering price and the number of shares offered may result in there being little or no demand for our shares at or above the initial public offering price. If this were to occur, the price of our shares would decline following this offering. If your objective is to make a short term profit by selling the shares you purchase in the offering shortly after trading begins, you should not submit a bid in the auction.
Successful bidders may receive the full number of shares subject to their bids, so potential investors should not make bids for more shares than they are prepared to purchase.
We and our underwriters will conduct an auction to assess the demand for our shares of Class A common stock. We intend to set the initial public offering price equal to the auction clearing price. If we do this, the number of shares represented by successful bids will likely equal the number of shares offered by this prospectus, and successful bidders may be allocated all of the shares that they bid for in the auction. Therefore, we caution investors against submitting a bid that does not accurately represent the number of shares of our Class A common stock that they are willing and prepared to purchase.
Our initial public offering price may have little or no relationship to the price that would be established using traditional valuation methods, and therefore, the initial public offering price may not be sustainable once trading begins.
We intend to set an initial public offering price that is equal to the auction clearing price. The offering price of our shares may have little or no relationship to the price that would be established using traditional indicators of value, such as our future prospects and those of our industry in general; our sales, earnings and other financial and operating information; multiples of earnings, cash flows and other operating metrics; market prices of securities and other financial and operating information of companies engaged in activities
similar to ours; and the views of research analysts. As a result, our initial public offering price may not be sustainable once trading begins, and the price of our Class A common stock may decline.
If research analysts publish or establish target prices for our Class A common stock that are below the initial public offering price or then current trading market price of our shares, the price of our shares of Class A common stock may fall.
Although the initial public offering price of our shares may have little or no relationship to the price determined using traditional valuation methods, we believe that research analysts will rely upon these methods to establish target prices for our Class A common stock. If research analysts, including research analysts affiliated with our underwriters, publish target prices for our Class A common stock that are below our initial public offering price or the then current trading market price of our shares, it could cause our stock price to decline significantly.
Submitting a bid does not guarantee an allocation of shares of our Class A common stock, even if a bidder submits a bid at or above the initial public offering price.
Our underwriters may require that bidders confirm their bids before the auction for our initial public offering closes. If a bidder is requested to confirm a bid and fails to do so, that bid will be rejected and will not receive an allocation of shares even if the bid is at or above the initial public offering price. In addition, we, in consultation with our underwriters, may determine, in our sole discretion, that some bids that are at or above the initial public offering price are manipulative and disruptive to the bidding process, in which case such bids will be rejected.
The systems and procedures used to implement our auction and the results of our auction could harm our business and our brand.
Only a small number of initial public offerings have been accomplished using auction processes in the U.S. and other countries, and none on the scale of our offering. We expect our auction structure to face scalability and operational challenges. Our underwriters systems that manage the auction process could fail to operate as anticipated. This could require us to delay our initial public offering, potentially even after our underwriters have started taking bids, and harm our brand. Our underwriters must modify their internal systems and procedures to accommodate our auction process. This could increase the risk that our underwriters systems or procedures fail to operate as anticipated.
Many of our users may submit bids in our auction with the hope of becoming stockholders. If these users either do not receive share allocations in our offering or if our share price immediately declines after the offering, our brand could be tarnished and users and investors could become frustrated with us, potentially decreasing their use of our products and services. If this occurs, our business could suffer.
Risks Related to Our Offering
Our stock price may be volatile, and you may not be able to resell shares of our Class A common stock at or above the price you paid.
Prior to this offering, our common stock has not been traded in a public market. We cannot predict the extent to which a trading market will develop or how liquid that market might become. The initial public offering price may not be indicative of prices that will prevail in the trading market. The trading price of our Class A common stock following this offering is therefore likely to be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in price in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. These factors include:
In addition, the stock market in general, and the market for technology companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. Such fluctuations may be even more pronounced in the trading market shortly following this offering. These broad market and industry factors may seriously harm the market price of our Class A common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, in the past, following periods of volatility in the overall market and the market price of a companys securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against these companies. This litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our managements attention and resources.
Future sales of shares by our stockholders could cause our stock price to decline.
We cannot predict the effect, if any, that market sales of shares or the availability of shares for sale will have on the market price prevailing from time to time. Sales of our Class A common stock in the public market after the restrictions described in this prospectus lapse, or the perception that those sales may occur, could cause the trading price of our stock to decrease or to be lower than it might be in the absence of those sales or perceptions. Based on shares outstanding as of June 30, 2004, upon completion of this offering, we will have outstanding 268,519,643 shares of common stock, assuming no exercise of the underwriters over-allotment option. We have entered into contractual lock-up agreements with our officers, directors and certain employees and other securityholders, representing the holders of substantially all of our outstanding capital stock. We may, in our sole discretion, permit our officers, directors, employees and current stockholders who are subject to contractual lock-up agreements with us to sell shares prior to the expiration of their lock-up agreements. None of our officers, directors, employees or stockholders have entered into contractual lock-up agreements with the underwriters in connection with this offering. In addition, our employees can only sell vested shares.
As a result of the selling restriction agreements between us and our stockholders that are described in Shares Eligible For Future Sale, the provisions of Rules 144, 144(k) and 701, our registration statements on Form S-8 and S-8/S-3 and our registered rescission offer, the restricted securities will first become available for sale in the public market as follows:
141,257,458 of these shares are held by directors, executive officers and other affiliates and will be subject to volume limitations under Rule 144 under the Securities Act of 1933 and various vesting agreements. If these additional shares are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our common stock could decline. The selling restriction agreements between us and our stockholders will allow significantly more shares to become freely tradeable soon after completion of the offering than is typical of initial public offerings.
In addition, we have agreed with our underwriters not to sell any shares of our common stock for a period of 180 days after the date of this prospectus. However, this agreement is subject to a number of exceptions, including an exception that allows us to issue an unlimited number of shares in connection with mergers and acquisition transactions, joint ventures or other strategic transactions. Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated and Credit Suisse First Boston LLC, on behalf of the underwriters, may release us from this lock-up arrangement without notice at any time. After the expiration of the 180-day period, there is no contractual restriction on our ability to issue additional shares. Any sales of common stock by us, or the perception that such sales could occur, could cause our stock price to decline.
We may apply the proceeds of this offering to uses that do not improve our operating results or increase the value of your investment.
We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, including working capital and capital expenditures. We may also use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire or invest in companies and technologies that we believe will complement our business. However, we do not have more specific plans for the net proceeds from this offering and will have broad discretion in how we use the net proceeds of this offering. These proceeds could be applied in ways that do not improve our operating results or increase the value of your investment.
Purchasers in this offering will experience immediate and substantial dilution in the book value of their investment.
The initial public offering price of our Class A common stock is substantially higher than the net tangible book value per share of our Class A common stock immediately after this offering. Therefore, if you purchase our Class A common stock in this offering, you will incur an immediate dilution of $111.91 in net tangible book value per share from the price you paid, based on the initial offering price of $121.50 per share. The exercise of outstanding options and warrants will result in further dilution. For a further description of the dilution that you will experience immediately after this offering, please see Dilution.
We do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividend on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings and do not expect to pay any dividends in the foreseeable future.
We will incur increased costs as a result of being a public company.
As a public company, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. We will incur costs associated with our public company reporting requirements. We also anticipate that we will incur costs associated with recently adopted corporate governance requirements, including requirements under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as new rules implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the NASD. We expect these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time-consuming and costly. We also expect these new rules and regulations may make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. As a result, it may be more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers. We are currently evaluating and monitoring developments with respect to these new rules, and we cannot predict or estimate the amount of additional costs we may incur or the timing of such costs.
The concentration of our capital stock ownership with our founders, executive officers, employees, and our directors and their affiliates will limit your ability to influence corporate matters.
After our offering, our Class B common stock will have ten votes per share and our Class A common stock, which is the stock we are selling in this offering, will have one vote per share. We anticipate that our founders, executive officers, directors (and their affiliates) and employees will together own approximately 84.4% of our Class B common stock, representing approximately 83.1% of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock. In particular, following this offering, our two founders and our CEO, Larry, Sergey and Eric, will control approximately 38.5% of our outstanding Class B common stock, representing approximately 37.9% of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock. Larry, Sergey and Eric will therefore have significant influence over management and affairs and over all matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors and significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or other sale of our company or its assets, for the foreseeable future. In addition, because of this dual class structure, our founders, directors, executives and employees will continue to be able to control all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval even if they come to own less than 50% of the outstanding shares of our common stock. This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and, as a result, we may take actions that our stockholders do not view as beneficial. As a result, the market price of our Class A common stock could be adversely affected.
Provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law could discourage a takeover that stockholders may consider favorable.
Provisions in our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, as amended and restated upon the closing of this offering, may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control or changes in our management. These provisions include the following:
As a Delaware corporation, we are also subject to certain Delaware anti-takeover provisions. Under Delaware law, a corporation may not engage in a business combination with any holder of 15% or more of its capital stock unless the holder has held the stock for three years or, among other things, the board of directors has approved the transaction. Our board of directors could rely on Delaware law to prevent or delay an acquisition of us. For a description of our capital stock, see Description of Capital Stock.
This prospectus includes forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this prospectus, including statements regarding our future financial position, business strategy and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. The words believe, may, will, estimate, continue, anticipate, intend, expect and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy, short term and long term business operations and objectives, and financial needs. In addition, a number of our objectives, intentions, expectations or goals described in Auction Process for qualification of bidders, the bidding process, the auction closing process, the pricing process and the allocation process are also forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations or objectives of the auction process being used for our initial public offering that are inherently uncertain. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described in Risk Factors.
In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events and circumstances discussed in this prospectus may not occur and actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements.
AN OWNERS MANUAL FOR GOOGLES SHAREHOLDERS1
Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one. Throughout Googles evolution as a privately held company, we have managed Google differently. We have also emphasized an atmosphere of creativity and challenge, which has helped us provide unbiased, accurate and free access to information for those who rely on us around the world.
Now the time has come for the company to move to public ownership. This change will bring important benefits for our employees, for our present and future shareholders, for our customers, and most of all for Google users. But the standard structure of public ownership may jeopardize the independence and focused objectivity that have been most important in Googles past success and that we consider most fundamental for its future. Therefore, we have implemented a corporate structure that is designed to protect Googles ability to innovate and retain its most distinctive characteristics. We are confident that, in the long run, this will benefit Google and its shareholders, old and new. We want to clearly explain our plans and the reasoning and values behind them. We are delighted you are considering an investment in Google and are reading this letter.
Sergey and I intend to write you a letter like this one every year in our annual report. Well take turns writing the letter so youll hear directly from each of us. We ask that you read this letter in conjunction with the rest of this prospectus.
SERVING END USERS
Sergey and I founded Google because we believed we could provide an important service to the worldinstantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic. Serving our end users is at the heart of what we do and remains our number one priority.
Our goal is to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible. In pursuing this goal, we may do things that we believe have a positive impact on the world, even if the near term financial returns are not obvious. For example, we make our services as widely available as we can by supporting over 90 languages and by providing most services for free. Advertising is our principal source of revenue, and the ads we provide are relevant and useful rather than intrusive and annoying. We strive to provide users with great commercial information.
We are proud of the products we have built, and we hope that those we create in the future will have an even greater positive impact on the world.
LONG TERM FOCUS
As a private company, we have concentrated on the long term, and this has served us well. As a public company, we will do the same. In our opinion, outside pressures too often tempt companies to sacrifice long term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations. Sometimes this pressure has caused companies to manipulate financial results in order to make their quarter. In Warren Buffetts words, We wont smooth quarterly or annual results: If earnings figures are lumpy when they reach headquarters, they will be lumpy when they reach you.
If opportunities arise that might cause us to sacrifice short term results but are in the best long term interest of our shareholders, we will take those opportunities. We will have the fortitude to do this. We would request that our shareholders take the long term view.
1 Much of this was inspired by Warren Buffetts essays in his annual reports and his An Owners Manual to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.
You might ask how long is long term? Usually we expect projects to have some realized benefit or progress within a year or two. But, we are trying to look forward as far as we can. Despite the quickly changing business and technology landscape, we try to look at three to five year scenarios in order to decide what to do now. We try to optimize total benefit over these multi-year scenarios. While we are strong advocates of this strategy, it is difficult to make good multi-year predictions in technology.
Many companies are under pressure to keep their earnings in line with analysts forecasts. Therefore, they often accept smaller, predictable earnings rather than larger and less predictable returns. Sergey and I feel this is harmful, and we intend to steer in the opposite direction.
Google has had adequate cash to fund our business and has generated additional cash through operations. This gives us the flexibility to weather costs, benefit from opportunities and optimize our long term earnings. For example, in our ads system we make many improvements that affect revenue in both directions. These are in areas like end user relevance and satisfaction, advertiser satisfaction, partner needs and targeting technology. We release improvements immediately rather than delaying them, even though delay might give smoother financial results. You have our commitment to execute quickly to achieve long term value rather than making the quarters more predictable.
Our long term focus does have risks. Markets may have trouble evaluating long term value, thus potentially reducing the value of our company. Our long term focus may simply be the wrong business strategy. Competitors may be rewarded for short term tactics and grow stronger as a result. As potential investors, you should consider the risks around our long term focus.
We will make business decisions with the long term welfare of our company and shareholders in mind and not based on accounting considerations.
Although we may discuss long term trends in our business, we do not plan to give earnings guidance in the traditional sense. We are not able to predict our business within a narrow range for each quarter. We recognize that our duty is to advance our shareholders interests, and we believe that artificially creating short term target numbers serves our shareholders poorly. We would prefer not to be asked to make such predictions, and if asked we will respectfully decline. A management team distracted by a series of short term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour.
RISK VS REWARD IN THE LONG RUN
Our business environment changes rapidly and needs long term investment. We will not hesitate to place major bets on promising new opportunities.
We will not shy away from high-risk, high-reward projects because of short term earnings pressure. Some of our past bets have gone extraordinarily well, and others have not. Because we recognize the pursuit of such projects as the key to our long term success, we will continue to seek them out. For example, we would fund projects that have a 10% chance of earning a billion dollars over the long term. Do not be surprised if we place smaller bets in areas that seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses. Although we cannot quantify the specific level of risk we will undertake, as the ratio of reward to risk increases, we will accept projects further outside our current businesses, especially when the initial investment is small relative to the level of investment in our current businesses.
We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner. For example, AdSense for content and Google News were both prototyped in 20% time. Most risky projects fizzle, often teaching us something. Others succeed and become attractive businesses.
As we seek to maximize value in the long term, we may have quarter-to-quarter volatility as we realize losses on some new projects and gains on others. We would love to better quantify our level of risk and reward for you going forward, but that is very difficult. Even though we are excited about risky projects, we expect to devote the vast majority of our resources to improvements to our main businesses (currently search and advertising). Most employees naturally gravitate toward incremental improvements in core areas so this tends to happen naturally.
We run Google as a triumvirate. Sergey and I have worked closely together for the last eight years, five at Google. Eric, our CEO, joined Google three years ago. The three of us run the company collaboratively with Sergey and me as Presidents. The structure is unconventional, but we have worked successfully in this way.
To facilitate timely decisions, Eric, Sergey and I meet daily to update each other on the business and to focus our collaborative thinking on the most important and immediate issues. Decisions are often made by one of us, with the others being briefed later. This works because we have tremendous trust and respect for each other and we generally think alike. Because of our intense long term working relationship, we can often predict differences of opinion among the three of us. We know that when we disagree, the correct decision is far from obvious. For important decisions, we discuss the issue with a larger team appropriate to the task. Differences are resolved through discussion and analysis and by reaching consensus. Eric, Sergey and I run the company without any significant internal conflict, but with healthy debate. As different topics come up, we often delegate decision-making responsibility to one of us.
We hired Eric as a more experienced complement to Sergey and me to help us run the business. Eric was CTO of Sun Microsystems. He was also CEO of Novell and has a Ph.D. in computer science, a very unusual and important combination for Google given our scientific and technical culture. This partnership among the three of us has worked very well and we expect it to continue. The shared judgments and extra energy available from all three of us has significantly benefited Google.
Eric has the legal responsibilities of the CEO and focuses on management of our vice presidents and the sales organization. Sergey focuses on engineering and business deals. I focus on engineering and product management. All three of us devote considerable time to overall management of the company and other fluctuating needs. We also have a distinguished board of directors to oversee the management of Google. We have a talented executive staff that manages day-to-day operations in areas such as finance, sales, engineering, human resources, public relations, legal and product management. We are extremely fortunate to have talented management that has grown the company to where it is todaythey operate the company and deserve the credit.
We are creating a corporate structure that is designed for stability over long time horizons. By investing in Google, you are placing an unusual long term bet on the team, especially Sergey and me, and on our innovative approach.
We want Google to become an important and significant institution. That takes time, stability and independence. We bridge the media and technology industries, both of which have experienced considerable consolidation and attempted hostile takeovers.
In the transition to public ownership, we have set up a corporate structure that will make it harder for outside parties to take over or influence Google. This structure will also make it easier for our management team to follow the long term, innovative approach emphasized earlier. This structure, called a dual class voting structure, is described elsewhere in this prospectus. The Class A common stock we are offering has one vote per share, while the Class B common stock held by many current shareholders has 10 votes per share.
The main effect of this structure is likely to leave our team, especially Sergey and me, with increasingly significant control over the companys decisions and fate, as Google shares change hands. After the IPO, Sergey, Eric and I will control 37.9% of the voting power of Google, and the executive management team and directors as a group will control 60.4% of the voting power. New investors will fully share in Googles long term economic future but will have little ability to influence its strategic decisions through their voting rights.
While this structure is unusual for technology companies, similar structures are common in the media business and has had a profound importance there. The New York Times Company, The Washington Post Company and Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, all have similar dual class ownership structures. Media observers have pointed out that dual class ownership has allowed these companies to concentrate on their core, long term interest in serious news coverage, despite fluctuations in quarterly results. Berkshire Hathaway has implemented a dual class structure for similar reasons. From the point of view of long term success in advancing a companys core values, we believe this structure has clearly been an advantage.
Some academic studies have shown that from a purely economic point of view, dual class structures have not harmed the share price of companies. Other studies have concluded that dual class structures have negatively affected share prices, and we cannot assure you that this will not be the case with Google. The shares of each of our classes have identical economic rights and differ only as to voting rights.
Google has prospered as a private company. We believe a dual class voting structure will enable Google, as a public company, to retain many of the positive aspects of being private. We understand some investors do not favor dual class structures. Some may believe that our dual class structure will give us the ability to take actions that benefit us, but not Googles shareholders as a whole. We have considered this point of view carefully, and we and the board have not made our decision lightly. We are convinced that everyone associated with Googleincluding new investorswill benefit from this structure. However, you should be aware that Google and its shareholders may not realize these intended benefits.
In addition, we have recently expanded our board of directors to include three additional members. John Hennessy is the President of Stanford and has a Doctoral degree in computer science. Art Levinson is CEO of Genentech and has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Paul Otellini is President and COO of Intel. We could not be more excited about the caliber and experience of these directors.
We believe we have a world class management team impassioned by Googles mission and responsible for Googles success. We believe the stability afforded by the dual class structure will enable us to retain our unique culture and continue to attract and retain talented people who are Googles life blood. Our colleagues will be able to trust that they themselves and their labors of hard work, love and creativity will be well cared for by a company focused on stability and the long term.
As an investor, you are placing a potentially risky long term bet on the team, especially Sergey and me. The two of us, Eric and the rest of the management team recognize that our individual and collective interests are deeply aligned with those of the new investors who choose to support Google. Sergey and I are committed to Google for the long term. The broader Google team has also demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to our long term success. With continued hard work and good fortune, this commitment will last and flourish.
When Sergey and I founded Google, we hoped, but did not expect, it would reach its current size and influence. Our intense and enduring interest was to objectively help people find information efficiently. We also believed that searching and organizing all the worlds information was an unusually important task that should be carried out by a company that is trustworthy and interested in the public good. We believe a well functioning society should have abundant, free and unbiased access to high quality information. Google therefore has a responsibility to the world. The dual class structure helps ensure that this responsibility is met. We believe that fulfilling this responsibility will deliver increased value to our shareholders.
IPO PRICING AND ALLOCATION
It is important to us to have a fair process for our IPO that is inclusive of both small and large investors. It is also crucial that we achieve a good outcome for Google and its current shareholders. This has led us to pursue an auction-based IPO for our entire offering. Our goal is to have a share price that reflects an efficient market valuation of Google that moves rationally based on changes in our business and the stock market. (The auction process is discussed in more detail elsewhere in this prospectus.)
Many companies going public have suffered from unreasonable speculation, small initial share float, and stock price volatility that hurt them and their investors in the long run. We believe that our auction-based IPO will minimize these problems, though there is no guarantee that it will.
An auction is an unusual process for an IPO in the United States. Our experience with auction-based advertising systems has been helpful in the auction design process for the IPO. As in the stock market, if people bid for more shares than are available and bid at high prices, the IPO price will be higher. Of course, the IPO price will be lower if there are not enough bidders or if people bid lower prices. This is a simplification, but it captures the basic issues. Our goal is to have the price of our shares at the IPO and in the aftermarket reflect an efficient market pricein other words, a price set by rational and informed buyers and sellers. We seek to achieve a relatively stable price in the days following the IPO and that buyers and sellers receive an efficient market price at the IPO. We will try to achieve this outcome, but of course may not be successful. Our goal of achieving a relatively stable market price may result in Google determining with our underwriters to set the initial public offering price below the auction clearing price.
We are working to create a sufficient supply of shares to meet investor demand at IPO time and after. We are encouraging current shareholders to consider selling some of their shares as part of the offering. These shares will supplement the shares the company sells to provide more supply for investors and hopefully provide a more stable price. Sergey and I, among others, are currently planning to sell a fraction of our shares in the IPO. The more shares current shareholders sell, the more likely it is that they believe the price is not unfairly low. The supply of shares available will likely have an effect on the clearing price of the auction. Since the number of shares being sold is likely to be larger at a high price and smaller at a lower price, investors will likely want to consider the scope of current shareholder participation in the IPO. We may communicate from time to time that we are sellers rather than buyers at certain prices.
While we have designed our IPO to be inclusive for both small and large investors, for a variety of reasons described in Auction Process not all interested investors will be able to receive an allocation of shares in our IPO.
We would like you to invest for the long term, and you should not expect to sell Google shares for a profit shortly after Googles IPO. We encourage investors not to invest in Google at IPO or for some time after, if they believe the price is not sustainable over the long term. Even in the long term, the trading price of Googles stock may decline.
We intend to take steps to help ensure shareholders are well informed. We encourage you to read this prospectus, especially the Risk Factors section. We think that short term speculation without paying attention to price is likely to lose you money, especially with our auction structure. In particular, we caution you that investing in Google through our auction could be followed by a significant decline in the value of your investment after the IPO.
Our employees, who have named themselves Googlers, are everything. Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled and hard working stars. We hope to recruit many more in the future. We will reward and treat them well.
We provide many unusual benefits for our employees, including meals free of charge, doctors and washing machines. We are careful to consider the long term advantages to the company of these benefits. Expect us to add
benefits rather than pare them down over time. We believe it is easy to be penny wise and pound foolish with respect to benefits that can save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity.
The significant employee ownership of Google has made us what we are today. Because of our employee talent, Google is doing exciting work in nearly every area of computer science. We are in a very competitive industry where the quality of our product is paramount. Talented people are attracted to Google because we empower them to change the world; Google has large computational resources and distribution that enables individuals to make a difference. Our main benefit is a workplace with important projects, where employees can contribute and grow. We are focused on providing an environment where talented, hard working people are rewarded for their contributions to Google and for making the world a better place.
DONT BE EVIL
Dont be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better servedas shareholders and in all other waysby a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.
Google users trust our systems to help them with important decisions: medical, financial and many others. Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating. We also display advertising, which we work hard to make relevant, and we label it clearly. This is similar to a well-run newspaper, where the advertisements are clear and the articles are not influenced by the advertisers payments. We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see.
MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
We aspire to make Google an institution that makes the world a better place. In pursuing this goal, we will always be mindful of our responsibilities to our shareholders, employees, customers and business partners. With our products, Google connects people and information all around the world for free. We are adding other powerful services such as Gmail, which provides an efficient one gigabyte Gmail account for free. We know that some people have raised privacy concerns, primarily over Gmails targeted ads, which could lead to negative perceptions about Google. However, we believe Gmail protects a users privacy. By releasing services, such as Gmail, for free, we hope to help bridge the digital divide. AdWords connects users and advertisers efficiently, helping both. AdSense helps fund a huge variety of online web sites and enables authors who could not otherwise publish. Last year we created Google Grantsa growing program in which hundreds of non-profits addressing issues, including the environment, poverty and human rights, receive free advertising. And now, we are in the process of establishing the Google Foundation. We intend to contribute significant resources to the foundation, including employee time and approximately 1% of Googles equity and profits in some form. We hope someday this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the worlds problems.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Google is not a conventional company. Eric, Sergey and I intend to operate Google differently, applying the values it has developed as a private company to its future as a public company. Our mission and business description are available in the rest of this prospectus; we encourage you to carefully read this information. We will optimize for the long term rather than trying to produce smooth earnings for each quarter. We will support selected high-risk, high-reward projects and manage our portfolio of projects. We will run the company collaboratively with Eric, our CEO, as a team of three. We are conscious of our duty as fiduciaries for our shareholders, and we will fulfill those responsibilities. We will continue to strive to attract creative, committed new employees, and we will welcome support from new shareholders. We will live up to our dont be evil principle by keeping user trust and not accepting payment for search results. We have a dual class structure that is biased toward stability and independence and that requires investors to bet on the team, especially Sergey and me.
In this letter we have talked about our IPO auction method and our desire for stability and access for all investors. We have discussed our goal to have investors who invest for the long term. Finally, we have discussed our desire to create an ideal working environment that will ultimately drive the success of Google by retaining and attracting talented Googlers.
We have tried hard to anticipate your questions. It will be difficult for us to respond to them given legal constraints during our offering process. We look forward to a long and hopefully prosperous relationship with you, our new investors. We wrote this letter to help you understand our company.
We have a strong commitment to our users worldwide, their communities, the web sites in our network, our advertisers, our investors, and of course our employees. Sergey and I, and the team will do our best to make Google a long term success and the world a better place.
The auction process being used for our initial public offering differs from methods that have been traditionally used in most other underwritten initial public offerings in the United States. In particular, we and our underwriters will conduct an auction to determine the initial public offering price and the allocation of shares in the offering. We plan to conduct this auction in five stagesQualification; Bidding; Auction Closing; Pricing; and Allocation. Investors that do not submit bids through the auction process will not be eligible for an allocation of shares in our offering. Please see the risks related to the auction process for our offering beginning on page 19.
The Qualification Process
Our objective is to conduct an auction in which you submit informed bids. Before you can submit a bid, you will be required to obtain a bidder ID. Your bidder ID will be issued electronically only after you have visited a web site where you can obtain a bidder ID and followed the steps described at www.ipo.google.com and How to Participate in the Auction for Our IPO on page 41. Before you register for a bidder ID, you should:
You may obtain a bidder ID from www.ipo.google.com. We currently expect this web site to become available within a few days after the date of this prospectus. This web site may only be open for obtaining bidder IDs for approximately one week. You will not be able to obtain a bidder ID after our underwriters begin taking bids in the auction for our initial public offering.
We seek to enable all interested investors to have the opportunity to qualify to bid and, following qualification, place bids in the auction for our initial public offering. To help meet this objective, we have selected an underwriter group that serves a broad range of the investing public.
We caution you that our Class A common stock may not be a suitable investment for you even if you obtain a bidder ID. Moreover, even if you obtain a bidder ID, you may not be able to bid in the auction if you do not meet the suitability requirements of the underwriter through which you are seeking to place a bid or as a result of other regulatory requirements as described below. Finally, even if you obtain a bidder ID and place a bid in the auction, you may not receive an allocation of shares in our offering for a number of reasons described below.
We have not undertaken any efforts to register this offering in any jurisdiction outside the U.S. Except to the limited extent that this offering will be open to certain non-U.S. investors under private placement exemptions in certain countries other than the U.S., individual investors located outside the U.S. should not expect to be eligible to participate in this offering. We would have liked to have made the offering more broadly available
internationally, but myriad international securities regulations and compliance requirements made this impracticable.
The Bidding Process
Once the auction begins, all investors that have qualified to bid may submit bids in our offering through one of our underwriters. In connection with submitting a bid, you must provide the following information:
Bids may be within, above or below the estimated price range for our initial public offering on the cover of this prospectus. Bid prices may be in any increment, including pennies. The minimum size of any bid is five shares. You may submit more than one bid.
To submit a bid, you should contact one of the following underwriters:
Each underwriter has the ability to receive bids from its customers through one or more of the following means: over the Internet, by telephone, by facsimile or in person. To participate in the auction for our initial public offering, you will be required to agree to accept electronic delivery of this prospectus, the final prospectus, any amendments to this prospectus or the final prospectus, and other communications related to this offering. If you do not consent to electronic delivery, or subsequently revoke that consent prior to the time at which our underwriters accept your bids, you will not be able to submit a bid or participate in our offering. However, your consent to electronic delivery of these documents does not constitute consent by you to electronic delivery of other information about us not related to this offering, such as proxy statements and quarterly and annual reports, during and after completion of this offering.
If you are interested in submitting a bid but do not currently have a brokerage account with any of the underwriters named above, you may contact one of these underwriters to inquire about opening an account and submitting a bid. You should be aware that, due to each underwriters requirements for new customer accounts, you may not be able to open an account with a particular underwriter. Even if you are a customer of one of our underwriters, and even if you have obtained a bidder ID, you may not be permitted to submit a bid if the underwriter through which you wish to submit your bid determines that you do not meet such underwriters suitability standards or that you are otherwise prohibited from participating in the offering due to regulatory requirements, such as the rules and regulations of the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Our managing underwriters will manage a master order book, to which we will have concurrent access, that will aggregate all bids collected by our underwriters and will include the identity of the bidders. Our master order book will not be available for viewing by bidders.
You should consider all the information in this prospectus in determining whether to submit a bid, the number of shares you seek to purchase and the price per share you are willing to pay. We, in consultation with our underwriters, will have the ability to reject bids that have the potential to manipulate or disrupt the bidding process. These bids include bids that we, in consultation with our underwriters, believe in our sole discretion do not reflect the number of shares that you actually intend to purchase, or a series of bids that we, in consultation with our underwriters, consider disruptive to the auction process.
The shares offered by this prospectus may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time that the registration statement filed with the SEC becomes effective. A bid received by any underwriter involves no obligation or commitment of any kind by the bidder until our underwriters have notified you that your bid is successful by sending you a notice of acceptance. Therefore, you will be able to withdraw a bid at any time until it has been accepted. You may withdraw your bid by contacting the underwriter through which you submitted your bid. Once the registration statement for our offering becomes effective, the underwriter through which you submitted your bid or bids may require that you deposit funds or securities in your brokerage account with value sufficient to cover the aggregate dollar amount of your bids.
During the bidding process, we and our managing underwriters will monitor the master order book to evaluate the demand that exists for our initial public offering. Based on this information and other factors, we and our underwriters may revise the public offering price range for our initial public offering set forth on the cover of this prospectus. In addition, we and the selling stockholders may decide to change the number of shares of Class A common stock offered through this prospectus. It is very likely that the number of shares offered will increase if the price range increases. You should be aware that we have the ability to make multiple such revisions. These increases in the public offering price range or the number of shares offered through this prospectus may result in there being little or no demand for our shares of Class A common stock at or above the initial public offering price following this offering. Therefore, the price of our shares of Class A common stock could decline following this offering, and investors should not expect to be able to sell their shares for a profit shortly after trading begins. You should consider whether to modify or withdraw your bid as a result of developments during the auction process, including changes in the price range or number of shares offered.
Reconfirmations of Bids
We will require that bidders reconfirm the bids that they have submitted in the offering if either of the following events shall occur:
If a reconfirmation of bids is required, we will send an electronic notice to everyone who received a bidder ID notifying them that they must reconfirm their bids by contacting the underwriters with which they have their brokerage accounts. If bidders do not reconfirm their bids when requested, we and the underwriters will disregard their bids in the auction, and they will be deemed to have been withdrawn.
Changes in the Price Range Prior to Effectiveness of the Registration Statement
If, prior to the date on which the SEC declares our registration statement effective, there is a change in the price range or the number of shares to be sold in our offering, in each case in a manner that is not otherwise material to our offering, we and the underwriters will:
In these situations, the underwriters could accept your bid without requiring you to reconfirm. However, the underwriters may decide at any time to require you to reconfirm your bid, and if you fail to do so, your bid will be invalid.
The Auction Closing Process
We can close the auction at any time. You will have the ability to modify any bid until the auction is closed. You will have the ability to withdraw your bid until your bid is accepted. This will occur when and if you are sent a notice of acceptance. If you are requested to reconfirm a bid and fail to do so, your bid will be rejected.
Contemporaneously with our request that the SEC declare the registration statement effective, we and the underwriters will send an electronic notice to everyone who received a bidder ID informing them of our request. Once the registration statement is effective, you will be sent an electronic notice informing you that the registration statement is effective and that we and our underwriters may accept successful bids in as little as one hour. Bidders may still withdraw their bids after the underwriters send this notice of effectiveness. However, a bidder cannot withdraw a bid after this one-hour period has expired if that bid has been accepted by the underwriters by sending an electronic notice of acceptance, regardless of whether the bidder is aware that the registration statement has been declared effective or that the electronic notice of acceptance of that bid has been sent. If your bid is accepted, you will be obligated to purchase the shares allocated to you in the allocation process.
The Pricing Process
We expect that the bidding process will reveal a clearing price for the shares of Class A common stock offered in our auction. The clearing price is the highest price at which all of the shares offered (including shares subject to the underwriters over-allotment option) may be sold to potential investors, based on bids in the master order book that have not been withdrawn or rejected at the time we and our underwriters close the auction.
The initial public offering price will be determined by us and our underwriters after the auction closes. We intend to use the auction clearing price to determine the initial public offering price and, therefore, to set an initial public offering price that is equal to the clearing price. However, we and our underwriters have discretion to set the initial public offering price below the auction clearing price. We may do this in an effort to achieve a broader distribution of our Class A common stock or to potentially reduce the downward price volatility in the trading price of our shares in the period shortly following our offering relative to what would be experienced if the initial public offering price were set at the auction clearing price. We cannot assure you that setting the initial public offering price below the auction clearing price would achieve this result. In addition, although setting the initial public offering price below the clearing price may achieve a broader distribution of our shares, it may not result in allocations of shares in our offering to specific types of investors, such as professional investors. Even if the initial public offering price is set below the auction clearing price, the trading price of our Class A common stock could still drop significantly after the offering.
We caution you that our initial public offering price may have little or no relationship to the price that would be established using traditional indicators of value, such as:
You should understand that the trading price of our Class A common stock could vary significantly from the initial public offering price. Therefore, we caution you not to submit a bid in the auction process for our offering unless you are willing to take the risk that our stock price could decline significantly.
The pricing of our initial public offering will occur after we have closed the auction and after the registration statement has been declared effective. We will issue a press release to announce the initial public offering price. The price will also be included in the notice of acceptance and the final prospectus will be sent to the purchasers of Class A common stock in our offering.
Acceptance of Bids
If the initial public offering price is at or above the bottom of the price range on the cover of the prospectus and no more than 20% above the top of the range, the underwriters can accept all bids at or above the initial public offering price by sending electronic notices of acceptance to successful bidders. In this case, the underwriters can accept your bid without reconfirmation.
If the initial public offering price is less than the bottom of the price range on the cover of the prospectus or more than 20% above the top of the range, we and the underwriters will:
Under these circumstances, the underwriters would not require the bidders to reconfirm their bids unless there is a material change in the prospectus that requires a recirculation of the prospectus. If reconfirmation is not required, the underwriters may accept successful bids by sending an electronic notice of acceptance in as little as one hour after we and the underwriters send the electronic notice of the final offering price and you will have the ability to withdraw your bid until it is accepted.
The Allocation Process
Once the initial public offering price has been determined, we and our underwriters will begin the allocation process. All investors who submitted successful bids will receive an allocation of shares in our offering. All shares will be sold at the initial public offering price. The allocation process will not give any preference to successful bids based on bid price.
If the initial public offering price is equal to the auction clearing price, all successful bidders will be offered share allocations that are equal or nearly equal to the number of shares represented by their successful bids. Therefore, we caution you against submitting a bid that does not accurately represent the number of shares of our Class A common stock that you are willing and prepared to purchase. If we, in consultation with our underwriters, believe in our sole discretion that your bid does not reflect the number of shares you actually intend to purchase, we may determine that your bid is manipulative or disruptive. If any of your bids are deemed manipulative or disruptive, all of the bids that you have submitted will be rejected, in which case you will not receive an allocation of shares in our initial public offering. Furthermore, neither we nor our underwriters will inform you that we have rejected your bids.
In the event that the number of shares represented by successful bids exceeds the number of shares we and the selling stockholders are offering, the offered shares will need to be allocated across the successful bidder group. We, in consultation with our underwriters, expect to use one of two methods to do sopro rata allocation or maximum share allocation. With either method, our objective is to set an initial public offering price where successful bidders receive at least 80% of the shares they successfully bid for in the auction. We do not intend to publicly disclose the allocation method that we ultimately employ. Once we choose an allocation method, we will not change it.
Pro Rata Allocation. With pro rata allocation, successful bidders will receive share allocations on a pro rata basis based on the following rules:
The following simplified, hypothetical example illustrates how pro rata allocation might work in practice:
Maximum Share Allocation. With maximum share allocation, successful bidders will receive share allocations based on an algorithm. Under this method, successful bidders with smaller bid sizes would receive share allocations for their entire bid amounts, while successful bidders with larger bid sizes would receive no more than a maximum share allocation to be determined using the following algorithm:
The following simplified, hypothetical example illustrates how maximum share allocation might work in practice:
We may designate tiers of bidders for purposes of allocation. Although we will not be able to determine whether or how we would implement a tiered allocation structure until the closing of the auction, the tiers would not be a factor in establishing the initial public offering price or in determining the size of the offering. If we were to implement a tiered allocation structure, we would divide the successful bidders into segments, or tiers, and assign bidders to tiers based on the size of their bids. This would require us to determine how many shares to allocate to each tier. The portion of the total shares offered in our initial public offering that are allocated to a tier may be different from the portion of the total shares successfully bid for in our auction that were bid for by bidders in that tier. Following the assignment of shares to each tier, we would apply either the maximum share or pro rata allocation within each tier. Our objective is that, regardless of any tiering allocations that we may implement, no successful bidder will be allocated less than 80% of the shares he or she successfully bid for in the auction.
Following the allocation process, our underwriters will provide successful bidders with a final prospectus and confirmations that detail their purchases of shares of our Class A common stock and the purchase price. The final prospectus will be delivered electronically and confirmation will be delivered by regular mail, facsimile or email. Successful bidders can expect to receive their allocated shares in their brokerage accounts three or four business days after the final offering price is established by us and the underwriters.
If you want to participate in the auction for our IPO, you will need to do the following:
Please be careful only to trust emails relating to the auction that come from your brokerage firm or from www.ipo.google.com. Emails from us will not ask for any personal information (such as social security number or credit card numbers). If you are not sure whether to trust an email, please contact your brokerage firm directly.
For more information on the auction process, see Auction Process beginning on page 34 of this prospectus.
We estimate that we will receive net proceeds of $1,661.9 million from our sale of the 14,142,135 shares of Class A common stock offered by us in this offering, based upon an assumed initial public offering price of $121.50 per share, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We will not receive any of the net proceeds from the sale of the shares by the selling stockholders.
The principal purposes of this offering are to obtain additional capital, to create a public market for our common stock and to facilitate our future access to the public equity markets.
We currently have no specific plans for the use of the net proceeds of this offering. We anticipate that we will use the net proceeds received by us from this offering for general corporate purposes, including working capital. In addition, we may use a portion of the proceeds of this offering for acquisitions of complementary businesses, technologies or other assets. We have no current agreements or commitments with respect to any material acquisitions.
Pending such uses, we plan to invest the net proceeds in highly liquid, investment grade securities.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividend on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings and do not expect to pay any dividends in the foreseeable future.
The following table sets forth our cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments and capitalization at June 30, 2004, as follows:
You should read this table in conjunction with Selected Consolidated Financial Data, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
The table above excludes the following shares:
If you invest in our Class A common stock, your interest will be diluted to the extent of the difference between the initial public offering price per share of our Class A common stock and the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our Class A and Class B common stock immediately after this offering. Pro forma net tangible book value per share represents the amount of our total tangible assets less total liabilities, divided by the number of shares of Class A and Class B common stock outstanding at June 30, 2004 after giving effect to the conversion of all of our preferred stock into Class B common stock, which will occur immediately prior to the completion of the offering.
Investors participating in this offering will incur immediate, substantial dilution. Our pro forma net tangible book value was $913.2 million, computed as total stockholders equity less goodwill and other intangible assets, or $3.59 per share of Class A and Class B common stock and preferred stock outstanding at June 30, 2004. Assuming the sale by us of shares of Class A common stock offered in this offering at an initial public offering price of $121.50 per share, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value at June 30, 2004, would have been $2,575.2 million, or $9.59 per share of common stock. This represents an immediate increase in pro forma net tangible book value of $6.00 per share of common stock to our existing stockholders and an immediate dilution of $111.91 per share to the new investors purchasing shares in this offering. The following table illustrates this per share dilution:
The following table sets forth on a pro forma as adjusted basis, at June 30, 2004, the number of shares of Class A common stock purchased or to be purchased from us, the total consideration paid or to be paid and the average price per share paid or to be paid by existing holders of common stock, by holders of options and warrants outstanding at June 30, 2004, and by the new investors, before deducting estimated underwriting discounts and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
The discussion and tables above are based on the number of shares of common stock and preferred stock outstanding at June 30, 2004.
The discussion and tables above include 62,187 shares of Class B common stock issuable upon exercise of a warrant that will be exercised in connection with the offering and exclude the following shares:
To the extent outstanding options and warrants are exercised, new investors will experience further dilution.
You should read the following selected consolidated financial data in conjunction with Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus.
The consolidated statements of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2001, 2002 and 2003, and the consolidated balance sheet data at December 31, 2002 and 2003, are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus. The consolidated statements of operations data for the years ended December 31, 1999 and December 31, 2000, and the consolidated balance sheet data at December 31, 1999, 2000 and 2001, are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements that are not included in this prospectus. The consolidated statements of operations data for the six months ended June 30, 2003 and 2004 and the consolidated balance sheet data at June 30, 2004 are derived from our unaudited consolidated financial statements included in this prospectus. The unaudited consolidated financial statements include, in the opinion of management, all adjustments that management considers necessary for the fair presentation of the financial information set forth in those statements. The historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected in any future period.
FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis of the financial condition and results of our operations should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and the notes to those statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. This discussion contains forward-looking statements reflecting our current expectations that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results and the timing of events may differ materially from those contained in these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those discussed in the section entitled Risk Factors and elsewhere in this prospectus.
Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Our innovations in web search and advertising have made our web site a top Internet destination and our brand one of the most recognized in the world. Our mission is to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful. We serve three primary constituencies:
We were incorporated in California in September 1998 and reincorporated in Delaware in August 2003. We began licensing our WebSearch product in the first quarter of 1999. We became profitable in 2001 following the launch of our Google AdWords program.
How We Generate Revenue
We derive most of our revenues from fees we receive from our advertisers.
Our original business model consisted of licensing our search engine services to other web sites. In the first quarter of 2000, we introduced our first advertising program. Through our direct sales force we offered advertisers the ability to place text-based ads on our web sites targeted to our users search queries under a program called Premium Sponsorships. Advertisers paid us based on the number of times their ads were displayed on users search results pages, and we recognized revenue at the time these ads appeared. In the fourth quarter of 2000, we launched Google AdWords, an online self-service program that enables advertisers to place targeted text-based ads on our web sites. AdWords customers originally paid us based on the number of times their ads appeared on users search results pages. In the first quarter of 2002, we began offering AdWords exclusively on a cost-per-click basis, so that an advertiser pays us only when a user clicks on one of its ads. AdWords is also available through our direct sales force. Our AdWords agreements are generally terminable at any time by our advertisers. We recognize as revenue the fees charged advertisers each time a user clicks on one of the text-based ads that appear next to the search results on our web sites.
Effective January 1, 2004, we terminated the Premium Sponsorships program and now offer a single pricing structure to all of our advertisers based on the AdWords cost-per-click model. We do not expect that this change to one pricing structure will have a negative effect on our revenues because most of our advertisers switched to the AdWords cost-per-click model. Our AdWords cost-per-click program is the advertising program through which we generate revenues by serving ads on our web sites and on Google Network member web sites through our AdSense program.
Google AdSense is the program through which we distribute our advertisers AdWords ads for display on the web sites of our Google Network members. Our AdSense program includes AdSense for search and AdSense for content. AdSense for search, launched in the first quarter of 2002, is our service for distributing relevant ads from our advertisers for display with search results on our Google Network members sites. AdSense for content, launched in the first quarter of 2003, is our service for distributing ads from our advertisers that are relevant to content on our Google Network members sites. Our advertisers pay us a fee each time a user clicks on one of our advertisers ads displayed on Google Network members web sites. In the past, we have paid most of these advertiser fees to the members of the Google Network, and we expect to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. We recognize these advertiser fees as revenue and the portion of the advertiser fee we pay to our Google Network members as cost of revenue. In some cases, we guarantee our Google Network members minimum revenue share payments. Members of the Google Network do not pay any fees associated with the use of our AdSense program on their web sites. Some of our Google Network members separately license our web search technology and pay related licensing fees to us. Our agreements with Google Network members consist largely of uniform online click-wrap agreements that members enter into by interacting with our registration web sites. Agreements with our larger members are individually negotiated. The standard agreements have no stated term and are terminable at will. The negotiated agreements vary in duration. Both the standard agreements and the negotiated agreements contain provisions requiring us to share with the Google Network member a portion of the advertiser fees generated by users clicking on ads on the Google Network members web site. The standard agreements have uniform revenue share terms. The negotiated agreements vary as to revenue share terms and are heavily negotiated.
We believe the factors that influence the success of our advertising programs include the following:
Advertising revenues made up 77%, 94%, 97% and 98% of our revenues in 2001, 2002, 2003 and in the six months ended June 30, 2004. We derive the balance of our revenues from the license of our web search technology, the license of our search solutions to enterprises and the sale and license of other products and services.
Trends in Our Business
Our business has grown rapidly since inception, and we anticipate that our business will continue to grow. This growth has been characterized by substantially increased revenues. However, our revenue growth rate has declined, and we expect that it will continue to decline as a result of increasing competition and the inevitable decline in growth rates as our revenues increase to higher levels. In addition, steps we take to improve the relevance of the ads displayed, such as removing ads that generate low click-through rates, could negatively affect our near-term advertising revenues.
The operating margin we realize on revenues generated from the web sites of our Google Network members through our AdSense program is significantly lower than that generated from paid clicks on our web sites. This lower operating margin arises because most of the advertiser fees from our AdSense agreements are shared with our Google Network members, leaving only a portion of these fees for us. The growth in advertising revenues from our Google Network members web sites has historically exceeded that from our web sites. This has resulted in an increased portion of our revenue being derived from our Google Network members web sites and has had a negative impact on operating margins. The relative rate of growth in revenues from our web sites compared to the rate of growth in revenues from our Google Network members web sites is likely to vary over time. For example, in the second quarter of 2004, growth in advertising revenues from our web sites exceeded that from our Google Network members web sites.
Our operating margin was greater in the six months ended June 30, 2004 compared to the year ended December 31, 2003. However we believe that our operating margin may decline in 2004 compared to 2003 as a result of an anticipated increase in costs and expenses, other than stock-based compensation, as a percentage of revenues. This decrease may be wholly or partially offset to the extent revenue growth from our Google web sites exceeds that of our Google Network members, as well as from an anticipated decrease in stock-based compensation as a percentage of net revenues in 2004 compared to 2003. The expected increase in cost and expenses, other than stock-based compensation, as a percentage of revenues is primarily a result of building the necessary employee and systems infrastructures required to manage our anticipated growth.
We have a large and diverse base of advertisers and Google Network members. No advertiser generated more than 2% of our revenues in 2001, 2002, 2003 or in the six months ended June 30, 2004. In addition, advertising and other revenues generated from one Google Network member, primarily through our AdSense programs, accounted for approximately 15%, 16% and 13% of our revenues in 2002, 2003 and in the six months ended June 30, 2004; no other Google Network members web sites generated advertising fees of more than 10% of our revenues. We expect our base of advertisers and Google Network members to remain large and diverse for the foreseeable future.
We have experienced and expect to continue to experience substantial growth in our operations as we seek to expand our user, advertiser and Google Network members bases and continue to expand our presence in international markets. This growth has required the continued expansion of our human resources and substantial investments in property and equipment. Our full-time employee headcount has grown from 284 at December 31, 2001, to 682 at December 31, 2002, to 1,628 at December 31, 2003 and to 2,292 at June 30, 2004. In addition, we have employed a significant number of temporary employees in the past and expect to continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Our capital expenditures have grown from $13.1 million in 2001, to $37.2 million in 2002, to $176.8 million in 2003 and to $182.3 million in the six months ended June 30, 2004. We currently expect to spend at least $300 million on capital equipment, including information technology infrastructure, to manage our operations during 2004. In addition, we anticipate that the growth rate of our costs and expenses, other than stock-based compensation, may exceed the growth rate of our revenues during 2004. Management of this growth will continue to require the devotion of significant employee and other resources. We may not be able to manage this growth effectively.
In early 2003, we decided to invest significant resources to begin the process of comprehensively documenting and analyzing our system of internal controls. We have identified areas of our internal controls requiring improvement, and we are in the process of designing enhanced processes and controls to address any issues identified through this review. Areas for improvement include streamlining our domestic and international billing processes, further limiting internal access to certain data systems and continuing to improve coordination across business functions. During our 2002 audit, our external auditors brought to our attention a need to increase restrictions on employee access to our advertising system and automate more of our financial processes. The auditors identified these issues together as a reportable condition, which means that these were matters that in the auditors judgment could adversely affect our ability to record, process, summarize and report financial data consistent with the assertions of management in our financial statements. In 2003, we devoted significant resources to remediate and improve our internal controls. Although we believe that these efforts have strengthened our internal controls and addressed the concerns that gave rise to the reportable condition in 2002,
we are continuing to work to improve our internal controls, including in the areas of access and security. We plan to continue to invest the resources necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our internal controls and procedures, including in the areas of access and security.
The portion of our revenues derived from international markets has increased. Our international revenues have grown as a percentage of our total revenues from 22% in 2002 to 29% in 2003, and have grown from 28% in the six months ended June 30, 2003 to 31% in the six months ended June 30, 2004. This increase in the portion of our revenues derived from international markets results largely from increased acceptance of our advertising programs in international markets, an increase in our direct sales resources in international markets and services as well as customer support operations and our continued progress in developing versions of our products tailored for these markets.
Results of Operations
The following is a more detailed discussion of our financial condition and results of operations for the periods presented.
The following table presents our historical operating results as a percentage of revenues for the periods indicated:
The following table presents our revenues, by revenue source, for the periods presented:
The following table presents our revenues, by revenue source, as a percentage of total revenues for the periods presented:
Growth in our revenues from 2002 to 2003, and from the three months ended March 31, 2004 to the three months ended June 30, 2004, as well as from the six months ended June 30, 2003 to the six months ended June 30, 2004, resulted primarily from growth in advertising revenues from ads on our Google Network members web sites and growth in revenues from ads on our web sites. The advertising revenue growth resulted primarily from increases in the total number of paid clicks and advertisements displayed through our programs, rather than from changes in the fees charged. Revenue growth was driven to a lesser extent by our introduction late in the first quarter of 2003 of AdSense for content. Our revenues grew by 27.2% from the three month period ended December 31, 2003 to the three month period ended March 31, 2004, but grew by only 7.5% for the three month period ended March 31, 2004 to the three month period ended June 30, 2004. The reasons for the decline in growth in revenues are described in the following paragraphs.
Growth in advertising revenues from our Google Network members web sites from the three months ended March 31, 2004 to the three months ended June 30, 2004 was $12.5 million or 3.7%, compared to $78.4 million or 30.7% from the three months ended December 31, 2003 to the three months ended March 31, 2004. This decrease in the growth rate was the result of slower growth in the number of page views and search queries, and ultimately paid clicks, on our Google Network member web sites due to seasonality. In addition, we entered into no new significant AdSense for search arrangements in the three months ended June 30, 2004.
Growth in advertising revenues from our web sites from the three months ended March 31, 2004 to the three months ended June 30, 2004 was $39.9 million or 13.2% compared to $59.7 million or 24.5% from the three months ended December 31, 2003 to the three months ended March 31, 2004 due to seasonality.
Licensing and other revenues decreased by $3.8 million from the three months ended March 31, 2004 to the three months ended June 30, 2004 primarily as a result of fewer search queries served by us on Yahoos web sites and fewer search queries on certain licensee web sites due to seasonality.
Growth in our revenues from 2001 to 2002 resulted primarily from growth in advertising revenues from ads on our web sites. The growth in advertising revenues resulted primarily from increases in the total number of paid clicks under our cost-per-click programs and the total number of advertisements displayed through our cost-per-displayed ad programs, rather than from changes in the fees charged. The revenue growth was driven in part by our introduction of our cost-per-click revenue model in the early part of 2002, which contributed to a significant increase in the number of our advertisers and by our introduction of AdSense for search in the first quarter of 2002.
We believe the increases in revenues described above were the result of the relevance and quality of both the search results and advertisements displayed, which resulted in more searches, advertisers and Google Network members, and ultimately more paid clicks.
Revenues by Geography
Domestic and international revenues as a percentage of consolidated revenues, determined based on the billing addresses of our advertisers, are set forth below.
The growth in international revenues is the result of our efforts to provide search results to international users and deliver more ads from non-U.S. advertisers. We expect that international revenues will continue to grow as a percentage of our total revenues during 2004 and in future periods. While international revenues accounted for approximately 29% of our total revenues in 2003 and 31% in the six months ended June 30, 2004, more than half of our user traffic came from outside the U.S. See Note 12 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included as part of this prospectus for additional information about geographic areas.
Costs and Expenses
Cost of Revenues. Cost of revenues consists primarily of traffic acquisition costs. Traffic acquisition costs consist of payments made to our Google Network members. These payments are primarily based on revenue share arrangements under which we pay our Google Network members most of the fees we receive from our advertisers whose ads we place on those Google Network member sites. In addition, certain AdSense agreements obligate us to make guaranteed minimum revenue share payments to Google Network members based on their achieving defined performance terms, such as number of search queries or advertisements displayed. We amortize guaranteed minimum revenue share prepayments (or accrete an amount payable to our Google Network member if the payment is due in arrears) based on the number of search queries or advertisements displayed on the Google Network members web site. In addition, concurrent with the commencement of certain AdSense agreements we have purchased certain items from, or provided other consideration to, our Google Network members. These amounts are amortized on a pro-rata basis over the related term of the agreement.
In addition, cost of revenues consists of the expenses associated with the operation of our data centers, including depreciation, labor, energy and bandwidth costs. Cost of revenues also includes credit card and other transaction fees related to processing customer transactions, as well as amortization of expenses related to purchased and licensed technologies.
Cost of revenues increased by $11.0 million to $326.4 million (or 46.6% of revenues) in the three months ended June 30, 2004, from $315.4 million (or 48.4% of revenues) in the three months ended March 31, 2004. This increase in dollars was primarily the result of additional traffic acquisition costs and the depreciation of
additional information technology assets purchased in the current and prior periods and additional data center costs required to manage more Internet traffic, advertising transactions and new products and services. There was an increase of $6.0 million in traffic acquisition costs and an increase in data center costs of $4.9 million primarily resulting from the depreciation of additional information technology assets purchased in the current and prior periods.
Cost of revenues increased by $437.2 million to $641.8 million (or 47.5% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2004, from $204.6 million (or 36.5% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2003. This increase was primarily the result of additional traffic acquisition costs and the depreciation of additional information technology assets purchased in the current and prior periods and additional data center costs required to manage more Internet traffic, advertising transactions and new products and services. There was an increase in traffic acquisition costs of $381.3 million and in data center costs of $39.6 million primarily resulting from the depreciation of additional information technology assets purchased in the current and prior periods. In addition, there was an increase in credit card and other transaction processing fees of $13.1 million resulting from more advertiser fees generated through AdWords.
Cost of revenues increased by $494.4 million to $625.9 million (or 42.7% of revenues) in 2003, from $131.5 million (or 29.9% of revenues) in 2002. This increase was primarily the result of increased traffic acquisition costs and additional data center costs required to manage more Internet traffic, advertising transactions and new products and services. Traffic acquisition costs increased $432.1 million due to an increase in the number of paid clicks on our Google Network members web sites. There was an increase in data center costs of $39.9 million primarily resulting from depreciation of additional information technology assets purchased in current and prior periods. In addition, there was an increase of $15.7 million in credit card and other transaction processing fees and an increase of $4.9 million related to amortization of developed technology resulting from acquisitions in 2003.
Cost of revenues increased by $117.3 million to $131.5 million (or 29.9% of revenues) in 2002, from $14.2 million (or 16.5% of revenues) in 2001. This increase was primarily the result of traffic acquisition costs and additional data center costs required to manage more Internet traffic, advertising transactions and new products and services. Traffic acquisition costs related to AdSense first introduced in 2002 totaled $94.5 million. There was an increase in data center costs of $15.3 million primarily resulting from depreciation of additional information technology assets purchased in current and prior periods. In addition, there was an increase in credit card and other transactional processing fees of $6.7 million.
In each period to date, the aggregate fees we have earned under our AdSense agreements have exceeded the aggregate amounts we have been obligated to pay our Google Network members. However, individual agreements have resulted in guaranteed minimum and other payments to Google Network members in excess of the related fees we receive from advertisers. In 2003 and in the six months ended June 30, 2004, we made guaranteed minimum and other payments of $22.5 million and $18.2 million in excess of the related fees we received from our advertisers.
We expect cost of revenues to increase in dollars and as a percentage of revenues in 2004 compared to 2003 primarily as a result of forecasted increases in traffic acquisition costs, and in our data center costs required to manage increased traffic, advertising transactions and new products and services. Also, increasing competition for arrangements with web sites that are potential Google Network members could result in our entering into more AdSense agreements under which guaranteed payments to Google Network members exceed the fees we receive from advertisers.
Research and Development. Research and development expenses consist primarily of compensation and related costs for personnel responsible for the research and development of new products and services, as well as significant improvements to existing products and services. We expense research and development costs as they are incurred.
Research and development expenses increased by $10.8 million to $45.8 million (or 6.5% of revenues) in the three months ended June 30, 2004, from $35.0 million (or 5.4% of revenues) in the three months ended March 31, 2004. This increase was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $7.2 million as a result of an 18% increase in research and development headcount. In addition, depreciation and related expenses increased by $2.3 million primarily as a result of additional information technology assets purchased over the six months ended June 30, 2004.
Research and development expenses increased by $50.8 million to $80.8 million (or 6.0% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2004, from $30.0 million (or 5.4% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2003. This increase was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $35.3 million as a result of a 100% increase in research and development headcount. In addition, depreciation and related expenses increased by $13.7 million primarily as a result of additional information technology assets purchased over the eighteen-month period ended June 30, 2004.
Research and development expenses increased by $59.5 million to $91.2 million (or 6.2% of revenues) in 2003, from $31.7 million (or 7.2% of revenues) in 2002. This increase in dollars was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $34.3 million as a result of a 101% increase in research and development headcount. In addition, we recognized $11.6 million of in-process research and development expenses during 2003 as a result of an acquisition. Note 4 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included as part of this prospectus describes further purchased in-process research and development expenses and other acquisitions.
Research and development expenses increased by $15.2 million to $31.7 million (or 7.2% of revenues) in 2002, from $16.5 million (or 19.1% of revenues) in 2001. This increase was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $13.2 million, principally as a result of an 83% increase in research and development headcount.
We anticipate that research and development expenses will increase in dollar amount and may increase as a percentage of revenues in 2004 and future periods because we expect to hire more research and development personnel and build the infrastructure required to support the development of new, and improve existing, products and services.
Sales and Marketing. Sales and marketing expenses consist primarily of compensation and related costs for personnel engaged in customer service and sales and sales support functions, as well as advertising and promotional expenditures.
Sales and marketing expenses increased $8.9 million to $56.8 million (or 8.1% of revenues) in the three months ended June 30, 2004, from $47.9 million (or 7.4% of revenues) in the three months ended March 31, 2004. This increase was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $5.5 million mostly as a result of a 19% increase in sales and marketing headcount. In addition, advertising and promotional expenses increased $3.8 million. The increase in sales and marketing personnel and advertising and promotional expenses was a result of our on-going efforts to secure newand to provide support to our existingusers, advertisers and Google Network members, on a worldwide basis.
Sales and marketing expenses increased $62.1 million to $104.7 million (or 7.7% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2004, from $42.6 million (or 7.6% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2003. This increase was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $42.9 million mostly as a result of a 100% increase in sales and marketing headcount. In addition, advertising and promotional expenses increased $10.9 million and travel-related expenses increased $1.9 million. The increase in sales and marketing personnel and advertising, promotional and travel-related expenses was a result of our on-going efforts to secure new, and to provide support to our existing, users, advertisers and Google Network members, on a worldwide basis.
Sales and marketing expenses increased $76.5 million to $120.3 million (or 8.2% of revenues) in 2003, from $43.8 million (or 10.0% of revenues) in 2002. This increase in dollars was primarily due to an increase in labor
and facilities related costs of $54.4 million mostly as a result of a 149% increase in sales and marketing headcount. In addition, advertising and promotional expenses increased $12.9 million and travel related expenses increased $3.2 million, primarily in the second half of 2003. The increase in sales and marketing personnel and advertising, promotional and travel-related expenses was a result of our on-going efforts to secure new, and to provide support to our existing, advertisers and Google Network members, on a worldwide basis. For instance, we have hired personnel to help our advertisers maximize their return on investment through the selection of appropriate keywords and have promoted the distribution of the Google Toolbar to Internet users in order to make our search services easier to access.
Sales and marketing expenses increased $23.7 million to $43.8 million (or 10.0% of revenues) in 2002, from $20.1 million (or 23.2% of revenues) in 2001. This increase in dollars was primarily due to increases in labor and facilities related costs of $19.5 million, primarily as a result of a 202% increase in headcount. Also, advertising and promotional expenses increased $1.7 million and travel related expenses increased $1.3 million.
We anticipate sales and marketing expenses will increase in dollar amount and may increase as a percentage of revenues in 2004 and future periods as we continue to expand our business on a worldwide basis. A significant portion of these increases relate to our plan to add support personnel to increase the level of service we provide to our advertisers and Google Network members.
General and Administrative. General and administrative expenses consist primarily of compensation and related costs for personnel and facilities related to our finance, human resources, facilities, information technology and legal organizations, and fees for professional services. Professional services are principally comprised of outside legal, audit and information technology consulting. To date, we have not experienced any significant amount of bad debts.
General and administrative expenses increased $4.1 million to $25.6 million (or 3.7% of revenues) in the three months ended June 30, 2004, from $21.5 million (or 3.3% of revenues) in the three months ended March 31, 2004. This increase was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $1.2 million, primarily as a result of a 27% increase in headcount, and an increase in professional services fees of $2.0 million. The additional personnel and professional services fees are the result of the growth of our business.
General and administrative expenses increased $24.5 million to $47.1 million (or 3.5% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2004, from $22.6 million (or 4.0% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2003. This increase in dollars was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $12.8 million, primarily as a result of a 93% increase in headcount, and an increase in professional services fees of $7.0 million. The additional personnel and professional services fees are the result of the growth of our business.
General and administrative expenses increased $32.4 million to $56.7 million (or 3.9% of revenues) in 2003, from $24.3 million (or 5.5% of revenues) in 2002. This increase in dollars was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $16.7 million, primarily as a result of a 194% increase in headcount, and an increase in professional services fees of $10.0 million, primarily in the second half of 2003. The additional personnel and professional services fees are the result of the growth of our business.
General and administrative expenses increased $12.0 million to $24.3 million (or 5.5% of revenues) in 2002, from $12.3 million (or 14.2% of revenues) in 2001. This increase in dollars was primarily due to an increase in labor and facilities related costs of $7.8 million, mostly as a result of a 96% increase in headcount and an increase in professional services fees of $3.9 million. The additional personnel and professional services fees are the result of the growth of our business.
As we expand our business and incur additional expenses associated with being a public company, we believe general and administrative expenses will increase in dollar amount and may increase as a percentage of revenues in 2004 and in future periods.
Stock-Based Compensation. We have granted stock options at exercise prices equal to the value of the underlying stock as determined by our board of directors on the date of option grant. For purposes of financial accounting, we have applied hindsight within each year to arrive at reassessed values for the shares underlying our options. We recorded the difference between the exercise price of an option awarded to an employee and the reassessed value of the underlying shares on the date of grant as deferred stock-based compensation. The determination of the reassessed value of stock underlying options is discussed in detail below in Critical Accounting Policies and EstimatesStock-Based Compensation. We recognize compensation expense as we amortize the deferred stock-based compensation amounts on an accelerated basis over the related vesting periods, generally four or five years. In addition, we have awarded options to non-employees to purchase our common stock. Stock-based compensation related to non-employees is measured on a fair-value basis using the Black-Scholes valuation model as the options are earned.
Stock-based compensation in the three months ended June 30, 2004 decreased $1.7 million to $74.8 million (or 10.7% of revenues) from $76.5 million (or 11.7% of revenues) in the three months ended March 31, 2004. The decrease was primarily due to a decrease of $3.9 million of stock-based compensation related to the modification of terms of former employees stock option agreements and a decrease in the level of stock option grants in the three months ended June 30, 2004, and smaller differences between the exercise prices and the reassessed values of the underlying common stock on the dates of grant, partially offset by the amortization of deferred stock-based compensation amounts from prior periods recognized in the current period.
Stock-based compensation in the six months ended June 30, 2004 increased $80.6 million to $151.2 million (or 11.2% of revenues) from $70.6 million (or 12.6% of revenues) in the six months ended June 30, 2003. The increase in dollars was primarily driven by the larger differences between the exercise prices and the reassessed values of the underlying common stock on the dates of grant, partially offset by a decrease in the level of stock option grants in recent periods. The increase was also driven by the recognition of $3.9 million of stock-based compensation related to the modification of terms of former employees stock option agreements in the three months ended March 31, 2004. No such modifications were made in the three months ended March 31, 2003.
Stock-based compensation increased $207.8 million to $229.4 million (or 15.6% of revenues) in 2003 from $21.6 million (or 4.9% of revenues) in 2002. The increase was primarily driven by the the larger differences between the exercise prices and the reassessed values of the underlying common stock on the dates of grant and, to a lesser extent, an increase in the level of stock option grants in 2003. Stock-based compensation increased $9.2 million to $21.6 million (or 4.9% of revenues) in 2002 from $12.4 million (or 14.3% of revenues) in 2001. The increase in dollars was primarily driven by the larger differences between the exercise prices and the reassessed values of the underlying common stock on the dates of grant, partially offset by a decrease in the level of stock option grants in 2002.
We expect stock-based compensation to be $117.2 million for the remaining six months of 2004, $137.7 million in 2005, $66.9 million in 2006, $24.1 million in 2007, $5.2 million in 2008 and $1.7 million thereafter, related to the deferred stock-based compensation on the balance sheet at June 30, 2004. These amounts do not include stock-based compensation related to options granted to non-employees and any options granted to employees and directors subsequent to June 30, 2004 at exercise prices less than the reassessed value on the date of grant and any additional compensation expense that may be required as a result of any changes in the stock option accounting rules. These amounts also assume the continued employment throughout the referenced periods of the recipient of the options that gave rise to the deferred stock-based compensation.
At December 31, 2003, there were 500,150 unvested options held by non-employees with a weighted average exercise price of $0.69, a weighted average 48-month remaining vesting period and a weighted average 4-year remaining expected life. The options generally vest on a monthly and ratable basis subsequent to December 31, 2003. Depending on the fair market value of these options on their vesting dates, which will depend in significant part on the then current trading price of our Class A common stock, the related charge could be significant during 2004 and subsequent periods. We recognized $5.4 million of stock-based compensation related to these options that vest over time in the six months ended June 30, 2004. No options that vest over time were granted to non-employees in the six months ended June 30, 2004.
Interest Income (Expense) and Other, Net
Interest income (expense) and other of $1.2 million of expense in the six months ended June 30, 2004 was primarily the result of $3.4 million of foreign exchange losses from net receivables denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars as a result of generally weakening foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar during the six months ended June 30, 2004, and approximately $500,000 of interest expense incurred on equipment leases, including the amortization of the fair value of warrants issued to lenders in prior years. This was partially offset by $2.7 million of interest income and realized gains earned on cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balances.
Interest income (expense) and other of $700,000 in the six months ended June 30, 2003 was primarily the result of approximately $1.2 million of interest income earned on cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balances offset by approximately $1.0 million of interest expense incurred on equipment loans and leases, including the amortization of the fair value of warrants issued to lenders in prior years.
Interest income (expense) and other of $4.2 million in 2003 was primarily the result of $2.7 million of interest income earned on cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balances, and $2.1 million of net foreign exchange gains from net receivables denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars as a result of generally strengthening foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar throughout 2003. In addition, we recognized $1.4 million of other income in 2003, primarily related to a gain recorded for certain upfront fees paid by advertisers whose ads were not delivered during the related contract periods. These income sources were partially offset by $1.9 million of interest expense incurred on equipment loans and leases, including the amortization of the fair value of warrants issued to lenders in prior years.
Interest income (expense) and other of $900,000 of expense and $1.6 million of expense in 2001 and 2002 was primarily the result of interest expense incurred on equipment loans and leases, including the amortization of the fair value of warrants issued to lenders, partially offset by interest income on cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balances.
Provision for Income Taxes
Our provision for income taxes decreased to $90.4 million or an effective tax rate of 53% in the three months ended June 30, 2004, from $91.7 million, or an effective tax rate of 59% in the three months ended March 31, 2004. In addition, our provision for income taxes increased to $182.0 million, or an effective tax rate of 56% in the six months ended June 30, 2004 from $132.2 million, or an effective tax rate of 70%, in the six months ended June 30, 2003. The decrease in our effective tax rate in the three months ended June 30, 2004 compared to the three months ended March 31, 2004 was primarily due to a decrease in forecasted stock-based compensation expense as a percentage of income before income taxes in 2004. Our provision for income taxes increased to $241.0 million or an effective tax rate of 70% during 2003, from $85.3 million or an effective tax rate of 46% during 2002, and from $3.1 million or an effective tax rate of 31% during 2001. The increases in provision for income taxes primarily resulted from increases in Federal and state income taxes, driven by higher taxable income year over year. Our effective tax rate is our provision for income taxes expressed as a percentage of our income before income taxes. Our effective tax rate is higher than the statutory rate because, in arriving at income before income taxes, we include in our costs and expenses significant non-cash expenses related to stock-based compensation, which are recognized for financial reporting purposes, but are not deductible for income tax purposes. The increases in our effective tax rates over each of 2001, 2002 and 2003 were primarily the result of an increase in stock-based compensation amounts.
We expect our effective tax rate to decrease in 2004, primarily as a result of an expected decrease in stock-based compensation charges as a percentage of pre-tax income in 2004 compared to 2003. Furthermore, once there is a public market for our stock, we may reduce our tax provision based on benefits we may realize upon exercise of certain options outstanding. Any such reduction would lower our effective tax rate.
A reconciliation of the federal statutory income tax rate to our effective tax rate is set forth in Note 11 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in this prospectus.
Quarterly Results of Operations
You should read the following tables presenting our quarterly results of operations in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes contained elsewhere in this prospectus. We have prepared the unaudited information on the same basis as our audited consolidated financial statements. You should also keep in mind, as you read the following tables, that our operating results for any quarter are not necessarily indicative of results for any future quarters or for a full year.
The following table presents our unaudited quarterly results of operations for the ten quarters ended June 2004. This table includes all adjustments, consisting only of normal recurring adjustments, that we consider necessary for fair presentation of our financial position and operating results for the quarters presented. We believe that we experience increased levels of Internet traffic focused on commercial transactions in the fourth quarter and decreased levels of Internet traffic in the summer months. Prior to the second quarter of 2004, these seasonal trends may have been masked by the substantial quarter over quarter growth in our revenues.
The following table presents our unaudited quarterly results of operations as a percentage of revenues for the nine quarters ended March 31, 2004.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
In summary, our cash flows were:
Since inception, we have financed our operations primarily through internally generated funds, private sales of preferred stock totaling $37.6 million and the use of our lines of credit with several financial institutions. At June 30, 2004, we had $548.7 million of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, compared to $334.7 million, $146.3 million and $33.6 million at December 31, 2003, 2002 and 2001, respectively. Cash equivalents and short-term investments are comprised of highly liquid debt instruments of the U.S. government
and its agencies and municipalities. Note 2 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included as part of this prospectus describes further the composition of our short-term investments.
Our principal sources of liquidity are our cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, as well as the cash flow that we generate from our operations. At June 30, 2004 and December 31, 2003, we had unused letters of credit for approximately $14.9 million and $12.2 million. We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments and cash generated from operations will be sufficient to satisfy our currently anticipated cash requirements through at least the next 12 months. Our liquidity could be negatively affected by a decrease in demand for our products and services. In addition, we may make acquisitions or license products and technologies complementary to our business and may need to raise additional capital through future debt or equity financing to the extent necessary to fund any such acquisitions and licensing activities. Additional financing may not be available at all or on terms favorable to us.
Cash provided by operating activities primarily consists of net income adjusted for certain non-cash items including depreciation, amortization, stock-based compensation, and the effect of changes in working capital and other activities. Cash provided by operating activities in the six months ended June 30, 2004 was $370.6 million and consisted of net income of $143.0 million, adjustments for non-cash items of $206.9 million and $20.7 million provided by working capital and other activities. Working capital and other activities primarily consisted of an increase in income tax liabilities, net, of $88.0 million (before a reduction in income taxes payable of $93.2 million due to warrant exercises), partially offset by an increase of $36.5 million in accounts receivable due to the growth in fees billed to our advertisers.
Cash provided by operating activities in the six months ended June 30, 2003 was $177.2 million and consisted of net income of $58.0 million, adjustments for non-cash items of $93.3 million and $25.9 million provided by working capital and other activities. Working capital and other activities primarily consisted of an increase in income tax liabilities, net, of $16.6 million and an increase of $35.9 million in accrued revenue share due to the growth in our AdSense programs and the timing of payments made to our Google Network members, partially offset by an increase of $34.2 million in accounts receivable due to the growth in fees billed our advertisers.
Cash provided by operating activities in 2003 was $395.4 million and consisted of net income of $105.6 million, adjustments for non-cash items of $296.0 million and $6.2 million used by working capital and other activities. Working capital and other activities primarily consisted of an increase of $90.4 million in accounts receivable due to the growth in fees billed our advertisers and an increase of $58.9 million in prepaid revenue share, expenses and other assets, due primarily to an increase of $35.5 million related to prepaid revenue share, as a result of several significant prepayments made in the fourth quarter of 2003, as well as an increase of $11.0 million of restricted cash relating to our operating leases. This was partially offset by an increase of $74.6 million in accrued revenue share due to the growth in our AdSense programs and the timing of payments made to our Google Network members and an increase of $31.1 million in accrued expenses and other liabilities primarily due to an increase in annual bonuses as a result of the growth in the number of employees. These bonuses were paid in the first quarter of 2004.
Cash provided by operating activities in 2002 was $155.3 million and consisted of net income of $99.7 million, adjustments for non-cash items of $50.6 million and $5.0 million provided by working capital and other activities. Cash provided by operating activities in 2001 was $31.1 million and consisted of net income of $7.0 million, adjustments for non-cash items of $26.6 million and $2.5 million used by working capital and other activities.
As warrants to purchase an additional 1,996,140 shares of our stock, and as certain options to purchase additional shares of Class A and Class B common stock, are exercised as anticipated over the current and future years, we expect to realize significant reductions in our tax liabilities. The reduction in our tax liability is computed based on the applicable statutory rates and the difference between the value of our stock on the date of exercise, as determined by our board of directors, and the price paid for those shares.
Also, as we expand our business internationally, we may offer payment terms to certain advertisers that are standard in their locales, but longer than terms we would generally offer to our domestic advertisers. This may increase our working capital requirements and may have a negative effect on cash flow provided by our operating activities. In addition, we expect that, once we are a public company, our cash-based compensation per employee will likely increase (in the form of variable bonus awards and other incentive arrangements) in order to retain and attract employees.
Cash used in investing activities in the six months ended June 30, 2004 of $295.0 million was attributable to capital expenditures of $182.3 million, net purchases of short-term investments of $109.2 million and cash consideration used in acquisitions of $3.5 million. Cash used in investing activities in the six months ended June 30, 2003 of $92.1 million was attributable to capital expenditures of $60.6 million and net purchases of short-term investments of $7.9 million. Capital expenditures are mainly for the purchase of information technology assets. Cash used in investing activities in 2003 of $314.0 million was attributable to capital expenditures of $176.8 million, net purchases of short-term investments of $97.2 million and net cash consideration used in acquisitions of $40.0 million. Cash used in investing activities in 2002 of $109.7 million was primarily attributable to net purchases of short-term investments of $72.6 million and capital expenditures of $37.2 million. Cash used in investing activities in 2001 of $29.1 million was primarily attributable to net purchases of short-term investments of $14.9 million and capital expenditures of $13.1 million. In order to manage expected increases in Internet traffic, advertising transactions and new products and services, and to support our overall global business expansion, we will continue to invest heavily in data center operations, technology, corporate facilities and information technology infrastructure. We currently expect to spend at least $300 million on capital equipment, including information technology infrastructure comprised primarily of production servers and network equipment, to manage our operations during 2004.
Cash provided by financing activities in the six months ended June 30, 2004 of $32.3 million was due primarily to proceeds from the issuance of common and convertible preferred stock pursuant to warrant exercises of $21.9 million, as well as to proceeds from the issuance of common stock pursuant to stock option exercises of $8.6 million, net of repurchases, and a $4.3 million payment received from a stockholder on a note receivable, offset by repayment of capital lease obligations of $2.4 million. Cash provided by financing activities in the six months ended June 30, 2003 of $3.9 million was due to proceeds from the issuance of common stock pursuant to stock option exercises of $7.8 million, net of repurchases, offset by repayment of equipment loans and capital lease obligations of $3.9 million. Cash provided by financing activities in 2003 of $8.1 million was due to proceeds from the issuance of common stock pursuant to stock option exercises of $15.5 million, net of repurchases, offset by repayment of equipment loan and lease obligations of $7.4 million. Cash used in financing activities in 2002 of $5.5 million was due to repayment of equipment loan and capital lease obligations of $7.7 million, partially offset by proceeds from the issuance of common stock pursuant to stock option exercises of $2.3 million, net of repurchases. Cash used in financing activities in 2001 of $2.4 million was primarily due to repayment of equipment loan and capital lease obligations of $4.5 million partially offset by proceeds from the issuance of convertible preferred stock of $1.0 million and the issuance of common stock pursuant to stock option exercises of $1.0 million, net of repurchases. We estimate that we will receive significant net proceeds from our sale of shares of Class A common stock offered by us in this offering. We currently have no specific plans for the use of these net proceeds. See Use of Proceeds above. Pending such uses, we plan to invest the net proceeds in highly liquid, investment grade securities.
Contractual obligations at December 31, 2003 are as follows:
Guaranteed Minimum Revenue Share Payments
In connection with our AdSense revenue share agreements, we are periodically required to make non-cancelable guaranteed minimum revenue share payments to a small number of our Google Network members over the term of the respective contracts. Under our contracts, these guaranteed payments can vary based on our Google Network members achieving defined performance terms, such as number of advertisements displayed or search queries. In some cases, certain guaranteed amounts will be adjusted downward if our Google Network members do not meet their performance terms and, in some cases, these amounts will be adjusted upward if they exceed their performance terms. Upward adjustments are capped at total advertiser fees generated under an AdSense agreement during the guarantee period. The amounts included in the table above assume that the historical upward performance adjustments with respect to each contract will continue, but do not make a similar assumption with respect to downward adjustments. We believe these amounts best represent a reasonable estimate of the future minimum guaranteed payments. Actual guaranteed payments may differ from the estimates presented above. To date, total advertiser fees generated under these AdSense agreements have exceeded the total guaranteed minimum revenue share payments. Five of our Google Network members account for approximately 70% of the total future guaranteed minimum revenue share payments and 10 of our Google Network members account for 91% of these payments. In 2003, we made $108.8 million of non-cancellable minimum guaranteed revenue payments. At June 30, 2004, our aggregate outstanding non-cancellable minimum guarantee commitments totaled $369.4 million through 2007.
In addition, in connection with some other AdSense agreements, we have agreed to make an aggregate of $51.9 million of minimum revenue share payments through 2006. This amount is not included in the above table since we generally have the right to cancel these agreements at any time. Because we sometimes cancel agreements that perform poorly, we do not expect to make all of these minimum revenue share payments. At June 30, 2004, this amount had decreased to $27.5 million.
Capital Lease Obligations
At December 31, 2003, we had capital lease obligations of $7.4 million (comprised of $6.6 million of principal and $800,000 of interest) related to several of our equipment leases. These amounts will come due under the terms of the arrangements at various dates through October 2005.
During 2003, we entered into a nine-year sublease for our headquarters in Mountain View, California. According to the terms of the sublease, we will begin making payments in July 2005 and payments will increase at 3% per annum thereafter. We recognize rent expense on our operating leases on a straight-line basis as of the
commencement of the lease. The lease terminates on December 31, 2012; however, we may exercise two five-year renewal options at our discretion. We have an option to purchase the property for approximately $172.4 million, which is exercisable in 2006.
In addition, we have entered into various other non-cancelable operating lease agreements for our offices and certain of our data centers throughout the U.S. and internationally with original lease periods expiring between 2004 and 2015. We recognize rent expense on our operating leases on a straight-line basis at the commencement of the lease. Certain of these leases have free or escalating rent payment provisions. We recognize rent expense under such leases on a straight-line basis. Total payments relating to leases having an initial or remaining non-cancelable term of less than one year are $2.3 million and are not included in the table above.
Subsequent to December 31, 2003, we entered into additional non-cancelable operating lease agreements with future minimum commitment payments as follows: $900,000 due in less than 12 months, $11.7 million due in 13-48 months, $6.6 million due in 49-60 months and $10.6 million due in more than 60 months which are not included in the above table.
Purchase obligations in the above table represent non-cancelable contractual obligations at December 31, 2003. In addition, we had $24.9 million of open purchase orders for which we have not received the related services or goods at December 31, 2003. This amount is not included in the above table since we have the right to cancel the purchase orders upon 10 days notice prior to the date of delivery. The majority of our purchase obligations are related to data center operations.
In June 2000, we issued a warrant to purchase shares of Series C preferred stock to a customer in connection with a branding and promotion agreement. In June 2003, the warrant converted in accordance with its terms into 1,229,944 shares of Series C preferred stock. The holder of the warrant disputes our interpretation of the conversion provisions of the warrant and has advised us that it believes a greater number of shares should have been issued upon conversion of the warrant. We are in active discussions with the warrant holder to resolve this matter and it is possible that the matter could be resolved in the latter half of 2004. At this stage of the discussions, the ultimate outcome is uncertain and any resolution through litigation or settlement cannot be reasonably estimated. While there is at least a reasonable possibility that resolution of this matter could result in a predominantly non-cash charge that would be material to our operating results in the latter half of 2004 and for the full year, management currently believes that the amount of any reasonably estimable liability with respect to this matter will not materially adversely affect our financial position or liquidity.
Acquisition of Applied Semantics
In April 2003, we acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of Applied Semantics, Inc., a privately held provider of content-targeted advertising programs. The total purchase price consisted of a cash payment of $41.5 million and 2,382,800 shares of, and options to purchase, Class A common stock. The transaction was accounted for as a business combination. For additional information, see Note 4 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included as part of this prospectus.
Off-Balance Sheet Entities
At December 31, 2003 and 2002, we did not have any relationships with unconsolidated entities or financial partnerships, such as entities often referred to as structured finance or special purpose entities, which would have been established for the purpose of facilitating off-balance sheet arrangements or other contractually narrow or limited purposes.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
We prepare our consolidated financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S. In doing so, we have to make estimates and assumptions that affect our reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses, as well as related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. In many cases, we could reasonably have used different accounting policies and estimates. In some cases changes in the accounting estimates are reasonably likely to occur from period to period. Accordingly, actual results could differ materially from our estimates. To the extent that there are material differences between these estimates and actual results, our financial condition or results of operations will be affected. We base our estimates on past experience and other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, and we evaluate these estimates on an ongoing basis. We refer to accounting estimates of this type as critical accounting policies and estimates, which we discuss further below. Our management has reviewed our critical accounting policies and estimates with our board of directors.
Accounting for Stock-Based Awards to Employees
We have granted stock options at exercise prices equal to the value of the underlying stock as determined by our board of directors on the date of option grant. For purposes of financial accounting, we have applied hindsight to arrive at reassessed values for the shares underlying our options and issued under other transactions. There are two measures of value of our common stock that are relevant to our accounting for equity compensation relating to our compensatory equity grants:
We record deferred stock-based compensation to the extent that the reassessed value of the stock at the date of grant exceeds the exercise price of the option. The reassessed values for accounting purposes were determined based on a number of factors and methodologies. One of the significant methods we used to determine the reassessed values for the shares underlying options is through a comparison of price multiples of our historical and forecasted earnings to certain public companies involved in the same or similar lines of business. The market capitalizations of these companies has increased significantly since January 2003 which contributed significantly to the increase in the reassessed values of our shares. We also considered our financial performance and growth, primarily since January 2003. Our revenue and earnings growth rates contributed significantly to the increase in the reassessed values of our shares. The reassessed values of our shares increased more significantly in dollar and percentage terms in earlier periods compared to later ones which is reflective of the related revenue and earnings growth rates. We also retained third party advisors to provide two contemporaneous valuation analyses since January 2003 and used this information to support our own valuation analyses. Please note that these reassessed values are inherently uncertain and highly subjective. If we had made different assumptions, our deferred stock-based compensation amount, stock-based compensation expense, in-process research and development expense, net income, net income per share and recorded goodwill amounts could have been significantly different.
The table below shows the computation of deferred stock-based compensation amounts arising from restricted shares and unvested stock options granted to employees for each of the three month periods set forth below:
We recognize compensation expense as we amortize the deferred stock-based compensation amounts on an accelerated basis over the related vesting periods. The table below shows employee and non-employee stock-based compensation expense recognized during 2001, 2002 and 2003. In addition, the table presents the expected stock-based compensation expense for options granted to employees prior to July 1, 2004 for each of the next five years and thereafter, assuming no change in the stock option accounting rules and assuming all employees remain employed by us for their remaining vesting periods. These amounts are compared to the expense and expected expense we would have recognized had we amortized deferred stock-based compensation on a straight-line basis.
We have elected to not record stock-based compensation expense for employee stock option awards using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model. This model was developed for use in estimating the fair value of freely traded options that have no vesting restrictions and are fully transferable. In addition, this model requires the input of highly subjective assumptions including the expected life of options and our expected stock price volatility. Because our employee stock options have characteristics significantly different from those of freely
traded options, and because changes in the subjective input assumptions can materially affect the fair value estimate, in our opinion, this model does not provide a reliable measure of the fair value of our employee stock options. Note 1 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included as part of this prospectus describes what the impact would have been had we expensed employee stock awards under the fair value method using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model.
Accounting for Stock-Based Awards to Non-employees
We measure the fair value of options to purchase our common stock granted to non-employees throughout the vesting period as they are earned, at which time we recognize a charge to stock-based compensation. The fair value is determined using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model, which considers the exercise price relative to the reassessed value of the underlying stock, the expected stock price volatility, the risk-free interest rate and the dividend yield. As discussed above, the reassessed value of the underlying stock were based on assumptions of matters that are inherently highly uncertain and subjective. As there has been no public market for our stock, our assumptions about stock-price volatility are based on the volatility rates of comparable publicly held companies. These rates may or may not reflect our stock-price volatility should we become a publicly held company. If we had made different assumptions about the reassessed value of our stock or stock-price volatility rates, the related stock-based compensation expense and our net income and net income per share amounts could have been significantly different.
Effect of Recent Accounting Pronouncements
In November 2002, the EITF reached a consensus on Issue 00-21, Accounting for Multiple Element Revenue Arrangements, addressing how to account for arrangements that involve the delivery or performance of multiple products, services, and/or rights to use assets. Revenue arrangements with multiple deliverables are divided into separate units of accounting if the deliverables in the arrangement meet the following criteria: (1) the delivered item has value to the customer on a standalone basis; (2) there is objective and reliable evidence of the fair value of undelivered items; and (3) delivery of any undelivered item is probable. Arrangement consideration should be allocated among the separate units of accounting based on their relative fair values, with the amount allocated to the delivered item limited to the amount that is not contingent on the delivery of additional items or meeting other specified performance conditions. The guidance in Issue 00-21 is effective for revenue arrangements entered into in fiscal periods after June 15, 2003. The adoption of Issue 00-21 did not have an impact on our financial statements. See the further discussion in Note 1 of Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements included as part of this prospectus.
During November 2002, the FASB issued Interpretation No. 45, Guarantors Accounting and Disclosure Requirements for Guarantees, Including Indirect Guarantees of Indebtedness to Others, an interpretation of FASB Statements No. 5, 57 and 107 and a rescission of FASB Interpretation No. 34 (FIN 45). FIN 45 elaborates on the existing disclosure requirements for a guarantor in its interim and annual financial statements regarding its obligations under guarantees issued. It also clarifies that at the time a guarantee is issued, the guarantor must recognize an initial liability for the fair value of the obligations it assumes under the guarantee and must disclose that information in its financial statements. The initial recognition and measurement provisions apply on a prospective basis to guarantees of third party obligations issued or modified after December 31, 2002, and the disclosure requirements apply to such guarantees outstanding at December 31, 2002. The Company adopted the provisions of FIN 45 at January 1, 2003. The adoption of this Interpretation did not have an impact on our operating results. See further discussion regarding indemnifications in Note 7 to the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements included with this prospectus.
In January 2003, the FASB issued Interpretation No. 46, Consolidation of Variable Interest Entities. Interpretation No. 46 clarifies the application of Accounting Research Bulletin No. 51. This Interpretation requires variable interest entities to be consolidated if the equity investment at risk is not sufficient to permit an entity to finance its activities without support from other parties or the equity investors lack specified characteristics. We do not have any variable interest entities.
In May 2003, the FASB issued SFAS No. 150, Accounting for Certain Financial Instruments with Characteristics of both Liabilities and Equity. SFAS No. 150 establishes standards for how a company classifies and measures certain financial instruments with characteristics of both liabilities and equity. It requires that an issuer classify certain financial instruments as a liability (or as an asset in some circumstances). SFAS No. 150 is effective for financial instruments entered into or modified after May 31, 2003, and otherwise is effective at the beginning of the first interim period beginning after June 15, 2003. The adoption of SFAS No. 150 did not have an impact on our financial statements.
Qualitative and Quantitative Disclosures about Market Risk
We are exposed to financial market risks, including changes in currency exchange rates, interest rates and marketable equity security prices.
Foreign Exchange Risk
Our exposure to foreign currency transaction gains and losses is the result of certain net receivables of the U.S. parent due from its subsidiaries and customers being denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, primarily the British Pound, the Euro and the Japanese Yen. Our foreign subsidiaries conduct their businesses in local currency. We recognized a foreign currency transaction loss of $2.8 million as a result of generally weakening foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar throughout the three months ended June 30, 2004. Also, we recognized a foreign currency transaction gain of $2.1 million as a result of generally strengthening foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar throughout 2003. Effective January 2004, we began to bill our international online sales through a foreign subsidiary, which will lower our exposure to foreign currency transaction gains and losses. In addition, effective January 2004 our board of directors approved a foreign exchange hedging program designed to minimize the future potential impact due to changes in foreign currency exchange rates. The program allows for the hedging of transaction exposures. The types of derivatives that can be used under the policy are forward contracts, options and foreign exchange swaps. The primary vehicle we expect to use will be forward contracts. We also generate revenue in certain countries in Asia where there are limited forward currency exchange markets, thus making these exposures difficult to hedge. In the three months ended June 30, 2004, we entered into forward foreign exchange contracts to offset the foreign exchange risk on certain existing intercompany assets.
Our exposure to foreign currency translation gains and losses arises from the translation of certain net assets of our subsidiaries to U.S. dollars during consolidation. During 2003, we recognized a foreign currency translation gain of $1.7 million as a result of greater aggregate net assets of our subsidiaries and stronger foreign currencies compared to the U.S. dollar at December 31, 2003 than at December 31, 2002.
We considered the historical trends in currency exchange rates and determined that it was reasonably possible that adverse changes in exchange rates of 10% for all currencies could be experienced in the near term. These changes would have resulted in an adverse impact on income before taxes of approximately $18.7 million and $4.5 million at June 30, 2004 and December 31, 2003. These reasonably possible adverse changes in exchange rates of 10% were applied to total monetary assets denominated in currencies other than the local currencies at the balance sheet dates to compute the adverse impact these changes would have had on our income before taxes in the near term. The increase in the reasonably possible adverse impact of $18.7 million and $4.5 million at June 30, 2004 and December 31, 2003 were primarily the result of an increase in intercompany receivables and cash related to the formation of our Irish subsidiary. The transaction gains and losses that netted to a $2.8 million loss and a $2.1 million gain in the three months and year ended June 30, 2004 and December 31, 2003 are a function of the exchange rates on the dates these transactions were entered into and the dates they were settled or the balance sheet dates.
Interest Rate Risk
We invest in a variety of securities, consisting primarily of investments in interest-bearing demand deposit accounts with financial institutions, tax-exempt money market funds and highly liquid debt securities of corporations and municipalities. By policy, we limit the amount of credit exposure to any one issuer.
Investments in both fixed rate and floating rate interest earning products carry a degree of interest rate risk. Fixed rate securities may have their fair market value adversely impacted due to a rise in interest rates, while floating rate securities may produce less income than predicted if interest rates fall. Due in part to these factors, our income from investments may decrease in the future.
We considered the historical volatility of short term interest rates and determined that it was reasonably possible that an adverse change of 100 basis points could be experienced in the near term. A hypothetical 1.00% (100 basis-point) increase in interest rates would have resulted in a decrease in the fair values of our investment securities of approximately $3.2 million and $1.9 million at June 30, 2004 and December 31, 2003.
Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Our innovations in web search and advertising have made our web site a top Internet destination and our brand one of the most recognized in the world. We maintain the worlds largest online index of web sites and other content, and we make this information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. Our automated search technology helps people obtain nearly instant access to relevant information from our vast online index.
We generate revenue by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising. Businesses use our AdWords program to promote their products and services with targeted advertising. In addition, the thousands of third-party web sites that comprise our Google Network use our Google AdSense program to deliver relevant ads that generate revenue and enhance the user experience.
Our mission is to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful. We believe that the most effective, and ultimately the most profitable, way to accomplish our mission is to put the needs of our users first. We have found that offering a high-quality user experience leads to increased traffic and strong word-of-mouth promotion. Our dedication to putting users first is reflected in three key commitments we have made to our users:
We believe that our user focus is the foundation of our success to date. We also believe that this focus is critical for the creation of long-term value. We do not intend to compromise our user focus for short-term economic gain.
How We Provide Value to Users, Advertisers and Web Sites
We serve our users by developing products that enable people to more quickly and easily find, create and organize information. We place a premium on products that matter to many people and have the potential to improve their lives, especially in areas in which our expertise enables us to excel.
Search is one such area. People use search frequently and the results are often of great importance to them. For example, people search for information on medical conditions, purchase decisions, technical questions, long-lost friends and other topics about which they care a great deal. Delivering quality search results requires significant computing power, advanced software and complex processesareas in which we have expertise and a high level of focus.
Communication is another such area. People increasingly rely on the Internet to communicate with each other. Gmail, our new email service (still in test mode), offers a gigabyte of free storage for each user, along with email search capabilities and relevant advertising. Delivering an improved user experience in Gmail has similar computing and software requirements as our search service.
Some of the key benefits we offer to users include:
Relevant and Useful Information. Our technologies sort through a vast and growing amount of information to deliver relevant and useful search results in response to user queries. This is an area of continual development for us. When we started the company five years ago, our web index contained approximately 30 million documents. We now index more than 4 billion web pages, or more than 100 times as much information. We are also constantly developing new functionality. Recent enhancements include personalization, which lets users specify interests to help our technology generate customized search results; and local search, which lets users look for web pages and businesses based on a certain geographic location. We also provide convenient links to specialized information, such as definitions, maps and travel information.
Objectivity. We believe it is very important that the results users get from Google are produced with only their interests in mind. We do not accept money for search result ranking or inclusion. We do accept fees for advertising, but it does not influence how we generate our search results. The advertising is clearly marked and separated. This is similar to a newspaper, where the articles are independent of the advertising. Some of our competitors charge web sites for inclusion in their indices or for more frequent updating of pages. Inclusion and frequent updating in our index are open to all sites free of charge. We apply these principles to each of our products and services. We believe it is important for users to have access to the best available information and research, not just the information that someone pays for them to see.
Global Access. We strive to provide Google to everyone in the world. Users from around the world visit our destination sites at Google.com and our 95 other international domains, such as Google.de, Google.fr, Google.co.uk, Google.co.jp and Google.ca. The Google interface is available in more than 90 languages. Through Google News, we offer an automated collection of frequently updated news stories tailored to 10 international audiences. We also offer automatic translation of content between various languages. We provide localized versions of Google in many developing countries. Although we do not currently recover our costs in these countries, we believe providing our products and services is an important social good and a valuable long-term business investment.
Ease of Use. We have always believed that the most useful and powerful search technology hides its complexity from users and provides them with a simple, intuitive way to get the information they want. We have devoted significant efforts to create a streamlined and easy-to-use interface based on a clean search box set prominently on a page free of commercial clutter. We have also created many features that enhance the user experience. Our products present these features when we believe they will be most useful, rather than promoting them unnecessarily. For example, Google WebSearch offers maps when a search appears to be for a geographic location.
Pertinent, Useful Commercial Information. The search for information online often involves an interest in commercial informationresearching a purchase, comparing products and services or actively shopping. We help people find commercial information through our search services and by presenting ads that are relevant to the information people seek. To ensure we display only the most relevant commercial information, our technology automatically rewards ads that users prefer and removes ads that users do not find helpful. For example, among our search services, we offer Froogle, a search engine for finding products for sale online.
As more people spend additional time and money online, advertisers are increasingly turning to the Internet to market their products and services to consumers. For these advertisers, we offer Google AdWords, an auction-based advertising program that enables them to deliver relevant ads targeted to search results or web content. Our AdWords program provides advertisers with a cost-effective way to deliver ads to customers across Google sites and through the Google Network. The advertisers using AdWords range from small businesses targeting local customers to many of the worlds largest global enterprises.
The AdWords program offers advertisers the following benefits:
Effective Return on Investment. Many advertising dollars are wasted because they are spent delivering messages that are ignored or that reach too broad an audience. With Google AdWords, businesses can achieve greater cost-effectiveness with their marketing budgets for two reasonsAdWords shows ads only to people seeking information related to what the advertisers are selling, and advertisers pay us only when a user clicks on one of their ads. Because we offer a simple ad format, advertisers can avoid incurring significant design, copywriting or other production costs associated with creating ads. As a result, even small advertisers find AdWords cost-effective for connecting with potential customers. In addition, advertisers can easily create many different ads, increasing the likelihood that an ad is exactly suited to a users search. Users can find advertisements for exactly what they are seeking, and advertisers can find users who want exactly what they are offering. When the interests of users and advertisers align, both are well served.
Access to the Google Network. We serve AdWords ads to the thousands of third-party web sites that make up the Google Network. As a result, advertisers that use our AdWords program can target users on our sites and on search and content sites across the web. This gives advertisers increased exposure to people who are likely to be interested in their offerings. The Google Network significantly enhances our ability to attract interested users.
Precise Campaign Control. Google AdWords gives advertisers hands-on control over most elements of their ad campaigns. Advertisers can specify the relevant search or content topics for each of their ads. Advertisers can also manage expenditures by setting a maximum daily budget and determining how much they are willing to pay whenever a user clicks on an ad. Our online tracking tools and reports give advertisers timely updates on how well their campaigns are performing and enable them to make changes or refinements quickly. Advertisers can also target their campaigns by neighborhood, city, country, region or language.
Global Support. We provide customer service to our advertiser base through our global support organization as well as through field sales offices in 11 countries. AdWords is available on a self-service basis with email support. Advertisers with more extensive needs and budgets can request strategic support services, which include an account team of experienced professionals to help them set up, manage and optimize their campaigns.
Nearly every web site in the world is indexed and made searchable by Google. Our users do searches and are directed to relevant web sites. Google provides a significant amount of traffic to web sites with which we have no business relationship. Many web sites are able to generate revenue from that traffic, but others have difficulty doing so. We are enthusiastic about helping sites make money and thereby facilitating the creation of better content to search. If there is better content on the web, people are likely to do more searches, and we expect that will be good for our business and for users. To address this opportunity, we created Google AdSense. Our Google AdSense program enables the web siteslarge and smallthat make up the Google Network to deliver AdWords ads that are relevant to the search results or content on their pages. We share most of the revenue generated from ads shown by a member of the Google Network with that membercreating an additional revenue stream for them. Web sites can also license our Google WebSearch product to offer the Google search experience to their users. The key benefits we offer to web sites in the Google Network include:
Access to Advertisers. Many small web site companies do not have the time or resources to develop effective programs for generating revenue from online advertising. Even larger sites, with dedicated sales teams, may find it difficult to generate revenue from pages with specialized content. We believe that Google AdSense enables Google Network members to generate revenue from their sites more effectively and efficiently. Google AdSense promotes effective revenue generation by providing Google Network members immediate access to Googles base of advertisers and their broad collection of ads. As soon as a web site joins the Google Network, our technology automatically begins delivering ads for posting on the members web site. The automated nature of our advertising programs promotes efficient revenue generation. Our online registration systems enable web
sites to easily join the Google Network and our ad serving technology allows automated delivery of ads for posting on the members site. The Google Network member determines the placement of the ads on its web site and controls and directs the nature of ad content.
Improved User Satisfaction. In their quest for revenue, many Internet companies have cluttered their web sites with intrusive or untargeted advertising that may distract or confuse users and may undermine users ability to find the information they want. Some web sites have adopted practices we consider to be abusive, including pop-up ads or ads that take over web pages. We believe these tactics can cause dissatisfaction with Internet advertising and reduce use of the Internet overall. Our AdSense program extends our commitment to improving the overall web experience for users by enabling web sites to display AdWords ads in a fashion that we believe people find useful rather than disruptive.
Products and Services
Our product development philosophy is centered on rapid and continuous innovation, with frequent releases of test products that we seek to improve with every iteration. We often make products available early in their development stages by posting them on Google Labs, at test locations online or directly on Google.com. If our users find a product useful, we promote it to beta status for additional testing. Our beta testing periods often last a year or more. Once we are satisfied that a product is of high quality and utility, we remove the beta label and make it a core Google product. Our current principal products and services are described below.
We are focused on building products and services that benefit our users and enable them to find relevant information quickly and easily. We offer, free of charge, all of the following services at Google.com and many of them at our international sites.
Google WebSearch. In addition to providing easy access to more than 4 billion web pages, we have integrated special features into Google WebSearch to help people find exactly what they are looking for on the web. The Google.com search experience also includes:
Google Image Search. Google Image Search is our searchable index of 880 million images found across the web. To extend the usefulness of Google Image Search, we offer advanced features, such as searching by image size, format and coloration and restricting searches to specific web sites or domains.
Google News. Google News gathers information from nearly 10,000 news sources worldwide and presents news stories in a searchable format within minutes of their publication on the web. The leading stories are presented as headlines on the Google News home page. These headlines are selected for display entirely by a computer algorithm, without regard to political viewpoint or ideology. Google News uses an automated process to pull together related headlines, which enables people to see many different viewpoints on the same story. Because topics are updated continuously throughout the day, people generally see new stories each time they check Google News. We currently provide our Google News service tailored to 10 international audiences.
Google Toolbar. The Google Toolbar makes our search technology constantly and easily available as people browse the web. The Google Toolbar is available as a free, fast download and can improve peoples web experience through several innovative features, including:
Froogle. Froogle enables people to easily find products for sale online. By focusing entirely on product search, Froogle applies the power of our search technology to a very specific tasklocating stores that sell the items users seek and pointing them directly to the web sites where they can shop. Froogle users can sort results by price, specify a desired price range and view product photos. Froogle accepts data feeds directly from merchants to ensure that product information is up-to-date and accurate. Most online merchants are also automatically included in Froogles index of shopping sites. Because we do not charge merchants for inclusion in Froogle, our users can browse product categories or conduct product searches with confidence that the results we provide are relevant and unbiased. As with many of our products, Froogle displays relevant advertising separately from search results.
Google Groups. Google Groups enables easy participation in Internet discussion groups by providing users with tools to search, read and browse these groups and to post messages of their own. Google Groups contains the entire archive of Usenet Internet discussion groups dating back to 1981more than 845 million posted messages. The discussions in these groups cover a broad range of discourse and provide a comprehensive look at evolving viewpoints, debate and advice on many subjects.
Google Wireless. Google Wireless offers people the ability to search and view both the mobile web, consisting of 5 million pages created specifically for wireless devices, and the entire Google index of more than 4 billion web pages. Google Wireless works on devices that support WAP, WAP 2.0, i-mode or j-sky mobile Internet protocols. Google Wireless is available through many wireless and mobile phone services worldwide.
Google Web Directory. Google Web Directory enables people to browse and search through web sites that have been organized into categories. Our directory combines Googles search technology with the categorization developed by the Open Directory Project and is available in 73 languages.
Google Local. Google Local enables users to find relevant local information based on zip codes, cities or specific addresses. Google Local results include neighborhood business listings, addresses, phone numbers, maps and directions.
Google Answers. Google Answers provides people with help finding information and answering questions. Users set a fee they are willing to pay and submit questions to the Google Answers service. One of more than 500 carefully screened freelance researchers responds, usually within 24 hours. Google Answers researchers are experienced web searchers with strong communication skills who often have expertise in various fields. An extensive collection of past responses is available to our users free of charge.
Google Catalogs. With Google Catalogs, we provide access to the full content of more than 6,600 mail-order catalogs, many of which were previously unavailable online.
Google Print. Google Print brings information online that had previously not been available to web searchers. Under this program, we have been experimenting with a number of publishers to host their content and rank their publications in our search results using the same technology we use to evaluate web sites. On Google Print pages, we provide links to book sellers that may offer the full versions of these publications for sale, and we show content-targeted ads that are served through the Google AdSense program.
Google Labs. Google Labs is our playground for our engineers and for adventurous Google users. On Google Labs, we post product prototypes and solicit feedback on how the technology could be used or improved. Current Google Labs examples include:
Blogger. Blogger is a leading web-based publishing tool that gives people the ability to publish to the web instantly using weblogs, or blogs. Blogs are web pages usually made up of short, informal, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically. Blogs can facilitate communications among small groups or to a worldwide audience in a way that is simpler and easier to follow than traditional email or discussion forums.
Picasa. We recently acquired Picasa, Inc., a digital photo management company. Picasa enables users to manage and share digital photographs and helps support our mission of making information universally accessible and useful.
Limited Availability Services. Some of our product offerings are in their initial test phases and are currently available to limited audiences. Examples include Gmail, our free email service, and Orkut, an invitation-based online meeting place where people can socialize, make new acquaintances and find others who share their interests.
Google AdWords is our global advertising program, which enables advertisers to present ads to people at the precise moment those people are looking for information related to what the advertiser has to offer. Advertisers use our automated tools, often with little or no assistance from us, to create text-based ads, bid on the keywords that will trigger the display of their ads and set daily spending budgets. AdWords features an automated, low-cost online signup process that enables advertisers to implement ad campaigns that can become live in 15 minutes or less. The total sign-up cost for becoming an AdWords advertiser is only $5.00.
Ads are ranked for display in AdWords based on a combination of the maximum cost per click (CPC) set by the advertiser and click-through rates and other factors used to determine the relevance of the ads. This favors the ads that are most relevant to users, improving the experience for both the person looking for information and the advertiser looking for interested customers. AdWords has many features that make it easy to set up and manage ad campaigns for maximum efficiency and effectiveness:
For larger advertisers, we offer additional services that help to maximize returns on their Internet marketing investments and improve their ability to run large, dynamic campaigns. These include:
Our Google AdSense program enables the web sites in our Google Network to serve targeted ads from our AdWords advertisers. Targeting can be based on search results or on web content. We share most of the revenue generated from ads shown by a member of the Google Network with that member. Most of the web sites that make up the Google Network sign up with us online, under agreements with no required term. We also engage in direct selling efforts to convince web sites with significant traffic to join the Google Network, under agreements that vary in duration. For our network members, we offer:
Google AdSense for search. For Internet companies with potentially large search audiences, we offer Google AdSense for search. Web sites use AdSense for search to generate additional revenue by serving relevant AdWords ads targeted to search results. Because we also offer to license our web search technology along with Google AdSense for search, companies without their own search service can offer Google WebSearch to improve the usefulness of their web sites for their users while increasing their revenue.
Google AdSense for content. Google AdSense for content enables web sites to generate revenue from advertising by serving relevant AdWords ads targeted to web content. Our automated technology analyzes the meaning of web content and serves relevant advertising, usually in a fraction of a second. We believe that some of the best content on the web comes from web sites aiming to reach small but highly targeted audiences. AdSense for content can help these web sites offset some of their publishing costs. We believe this may help them continue to publish by tapping into the value of their content. There is no charge for web sites to participate in our AdSense for content program. Using our automated sign-up process, web sites can quickly display AdWords ads on their sites. We share the majority of the revenues generated from click-throughs on these ads with the Google Network members that display the ads. For web sites with more than 20 million page views per month, we provide customization services.
Google Search Appliance
We provide our search technology for use within enterprises through the Google Search Appliance (GSA). The GSA is a complete software and hardware solution that companies can easily implement to extend Googles search performance to their internal or external information. The GSA can often be installed and launched in as little as one day. It leverages our search technology to identify the most relevant pages on intranet and public web sites, making it easy for people to find the information they need. The GSA offers several useful features, including automated spell-checking, cached pages, dynamic snippets, indented results and automatic conversion of Microsoft Office and PDF files to HTML. The GSA is available in three models: the GB-1001, for departments and mid-sized companies; the GB-5005, for dedicated, high-priority search services such as customer-facing web sites and company-wide intranet applications; and the GB-8008, for centralized deployments supporting global business units. List prices for our GSA models start at $32,000 for the GB-1001, $230,000 for the GB-5005 and $525,000 for the GB-8008.
We began as a technology company and have evolved into a software, technology, Internet, advertising and media company all rolled into one. We take technology innovation very seriously. We compete aggressively for talent, and our people drive our innovation, technology development and operations. We strive to hire the best computer scientists and engineers to help us solve very significant challenges across systems design, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, networking, software engineering, testing, distributed systems, cluster design and other areas. We work hard to provide an environment where these talented people can have fulfilling jobs and produce technological innovations that have a positive effect on the world through daily use by millions of people. We employ technology whenever possible to increase the efficiency of our business and to improve the experience we offer our users.
We provide our web search and targeted advertising technology using a large network of commodity computers running custom software developed in-house. Some elements of our technology include:
Web Search Technology
Our web search technology uses a combination of techniques to determine the importance of a web page independent of a particular search query and to determine the relevance of that page to a particular search query. We do not explain how we do ranking in great detail because some people try to manipulate our search results for their own gain, rather than in an attempt to provide high-quality information to users.
PageRank and Ranking Technology. One element of our technology for ranking web pages is called PageRank. While we developed much of our ranking technology after the company was formed, PageRank was developed at Stanford University with the involvement of our founders, and was therefore published as research. Most of our current ranking technology is protected as trade-secret. PageRank is a query-independent technique for determining the importance of web pages by looking at the link structure of the web. PageRank treats a link from web page A to web page B as a vote by page A in favor of page B. The PageRank of a page is the sum of the PageRank of the pages that link to it. The PageRank of a web page also depends on the importance (or PageRank) of the other web pages casting the votes. Votes cast by important web pages with high PageRank weigh more heavily and are more influential in deciding the PageRank of pages on the web.
Text-Matching Techniques. Our technology employs text-matching techniques that compare search queries with the content of web pages to help determine relevance. Our text-based scoring techniques do far more than count the number of times a search term appears on a web page. For example, our technology determines the proximity of individual search terms to each other on a given web page, and prioritizes results that have the search terms near each other. Many other aspects of a pages content are factored into the equation, as is the content of pages that link to the page in question. By combining query independent measures such as PageRank with our text-matching techniques, we are able to deliver search results that are relevant to what people are trying to find.
Our advertising program serves millions of relevant, targeted ads each day based on search terms people enter or content they view on the web. The key elements of our advertising technology include:
Google AdWords Auction System. We use the Google AdWords auction system to enable advertisers to automatically deliver relevant, targeted advertising. Every search query we process involves the automated execution of an auction, resulting in our advertising system often processing hundreds of millions of auctions per day. To determine whether an ad is relevant to a particular query, this system weighs an advertisers willingness to pay for prominence in the ad listings (the CPC) and interest from users in the ad as measured by the click-through rate and other factors. If an ad does not attract user clicks, it moves to a less prominent position on the page, even if the advertiser offers to pay a high amount. This prevents advertisers with irrelevant ads from squatting in top positions to gain exposure. Conversely, more relevant, well-targeted ads that are clicked on frequently move up in ranking, with no need for advertisers to increase their bids. Because we are paid only when users click on ads, the AdWords ranking system aligns our interests equally with those of our advertisers and our users. The more relevant and useful the ad, the better for our users, for our advertisers and for us.
The AdWords auction system also incorporates our AdWords discounter, which automatically lowers the amount advertisers actually pay to the minimum needed to maintain their ad position. Consider a situation where there are three advertisersPat, Betty and Joeeach bidding on the same keyword for ads that will be displayed on Google.com. These advertisers have ads with equal click-through rates and bid $1.00 per click, $0.60 per click and $0.50 per click, respectively. With our AdWords discounter, Pat would occupy the first ad position and pay only $0.61 per click, Betty would occupy the second ad position and pay only $0.51 per click, and Joe would occupy the third ad position and pay the minimum bid of $0.05 per click. The AdWords discounter saves money for advertisers by minimizing the price they pay per click, while relieving them of the need to constantly monitor and adjust their CPCs. Advertisers can experience greater discounts through the application of our smart pricing technology introduced in April 2004. This technology can reduce the price of clicks for ads served across the Google Network based on the expected value of the click to the advertiser.
AdSense Contextual Advertising Technology. Our AdSense technology employs techniques that consider factors such as keyword analysis, word frequency, font size and the overall link structure of the web to analyze the content of individual web pages and to match ads to them almost instantaneously. With this ad targeting technology, we can automatically serve contextually relevant ads. To do this, Google Network members embed a small amount of custom HTML code on web pages that generates a request to Googles AdSense service whenever a user views the web page. Upon receiving a request, our software examines the content of web pages and performs a matching process that identifies advertisements that we believe are relevant to the content of the specific web page. The relevant ads are then returned to the web pages in response to the request. We employ similar techniques for matching advertisements to other forms of textual content, such as email messages and Google Groups postings. For example, our technology can serve ads offering tickets to fans of a specific sports team on a news story about that team.
Large-Scale Systems Technology
Our business relies on our software and hardware infrastructure, which provides substantial computing resources at low cost. We currently use a combination of off-the-shelf and custom software running on clusters of commodity computers. Our considerable investment in developing this infrastructure has produced several key benefits. It simplifies the storage and processing of large amounts of data, eases the deployment and operation of large-scale global products and services and automates much of the administration of large-scale clusters of computers.
Although most of this infrastructure is not directly visible to our users, we believe it is important for providing a high-quality user experience. It enables significant improvements in the relevance of our search and advertising results by allowing us to apply superior search and retrieval algorithms that are computationally intensive. We believe the infrastructure also shortens our product development cycle and allows us to pursue innovation more cost effectively.
We constantly evaluate new hardware alternatives and software techniques to help further reduce our computational costs. This allows us to improve our existing products and services and to more easily develop, deploy and operate new global products and services.
Sales and Support
We have put significant effort into developing our sales and support infrastructure. We maintain 21 sales offices in 11 countries, and we deploy specialized sales teams across 18 vertical markets. We bring businesses into our advertising network through both online and direct sales channels. In all cases, we use technology and automation wherever possible to improve the experience for our advertisers and to grow our business cost-effectively. The vast majority of our advertisers use our automated online AdWords program to establish accounts, create ads, target users and launch and manage their advertising campaigns. Our direct advertising sales team focuses on attracting and supporting companies around the world with sizeable advertising budgets. Our AdSense program follows a similar model. Most of the web sites in the Google Network sign up for AdSense using an automated online process. Our direct sales force focuses on building AdSense relationships with leading Internet companies. Our global support organization concentrates on helping our advertisers and Google Network members get the most out of their relationships with us.
We have always believed that building a trusted, highly-recognized brand begins with providing high-quality products and services that make a notable difference in peoples lives. Our user base has grown primarily by word-of-mouth, which can work very well for products that inspire a high level of user loyalty because users are likely to share their positive experiences with their friends