If you say you're going to sell your old car for $12,000, and you end up selling it for $8,000, are you a success or a failure?
That's one of the questions worth mulling over in the wake of
public offering of stock last week.
The company didn't reap all the money that it originally indicated it would. And, judging by the 18% rise in Google on its first day of trading, it didn't get the full amount for its shares that a freely trading, liquid market would bear.
But, say people who observed the company's IPO process from different angles, Google did all right for itself, for its new shareholders and for others as well.
Perhaps the happiest of participants in the process were individual investors who were able to get allocations of Google shares at a price they could only dream about back in the heyday of the Internet stock boom: The company's actual offering price on the first day of trading.
One of those satisfied customers was Phillip Pessar, an antiques dealer in Miami. "Originally, I wanted five shares just to have five shares -- to be part of the event," says Pessar.
Through three different accounts at two different firms, Pessar placed bids on 20 shares of Google stock at a price of $135 a share, and ended up with 15 shares priced at $85 apiece. "It was exciting," says Pessar, who says he found himself caught up in the IPO process -- staying home and waiting for each Google-related email. "I was glued to my computer."
Google's auction, says Pessar, "gave me an allocation which I might not have gotten," he says, adding that in conventional, prior IPOs in which he has wanted to participate, he hasn't gotten any allocation.
"I think it was fair -- better than it coming out at 45 and all the mutual funds getting it at 45 and it opening up at 80 or 90," Pessar says. "I think the Dutch auction process is getting a bad rap." Pessar is still holding his Google shares, and is even thinking about buying more.
Another positive of the IPO, says Phillip Thune, president of paid search operator
, is the power of the spotlight on Google and its Internet peers. "The attention of this IPO is like nothing anybody's seen, probably, in years," he says. "And every time people talk about Google, they're obviously talking about how Google makes money, which is how we make money."
Thune, who earlier in his career was an investment banker at Alex. Brown, says that the missteps in Google's IPO process -- for example, the
interview and the rescission offer -- have been overblown.
"It seems like there's been a perception that a lot of things are going wrong," Thune says. "I don't think there's been an IPO where every move that the company makes has been in the spotlight
the way Google has. So I'm not sure that the process was as bumpy as it appears. When thousands of media outlets are watching your every move, the inevitable bumps are going to be magnified." Thune made no investment in Google.
One useful upshot of the Google IPO is that the company now has "a boatload of more cash," says Kevin Lee, CEO of the search engine marketing firm Did-it.com.
With the $1.2 billion the company raised in its IPO and its publicly traded stock, says Lee, it's going to be easy for Google to take advantage of what he calls "undervalued content opportunities" on the Internet -- niche sites that may not be generating any advertising revenue, but could if they partnered with -- or were owned by -- Google.
"There's an exit strategy now" in the Internet content market, "or a way to generate cash," Lee says.
Separately, Lee points out one final set of winners in the IPO process -- company insiders, including venture capital investors Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins, who pulled back all or some of their shares from being sold in the $85-per-share public offering.
With Google's shares up since the offering -- the stock closed at $108.31 Friday, up 8% for the day and 27% from the offering price -- the people who held back their shares "look like geniuses now," says Lee.
Lee, who bought shares in the offering, had sold them by Friday afternoon. "I may buy again," he says.
At the time of publication, Mannes had no positions in stocks mentioned other than Google, which he was long for the purpose of reporting on the auction process.
has waived the provision of its Investment Policy with respect to Mannes' ownership of the stock solely for the purpose of writing stories on Google's IPO. Mannes has agreed to sell his shares as soon as possible following his brokerage firm's 30-day "no-flipping" window for initial public offerings. As the situation warrants, he will be reimbursed by
for any losses, or donate any gains to a charity to be named later.