What does Wall Street think of Google

Google is being silvered

The years of depression on Sand Hill Road seem to be slowly but surely coming to an end. Google and IPO are the magic words that give hope for better times. The most important venture capital companies of the high-tech scene reside here in Menlo Park, California. And when the stock market goes up again, investments worth millions in Internet start-ups can finally be cashed in again by going public.

Dream of the good old days of the stock exchange

The sponsors of the search engine Google, who reside on Sand Hill Road and a stone's throw from the campus of the elite Stanford University, know this too. For Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, it is good news in and of itself that, after years of high-tech lull, an IPO could wash money into their coffers again. But not only the entire venture capital scene would benefit from an IPO à la Google, which is becoming more and more likely in spring 2004. Wall Street is also hoping for a better climate for technology companies to go public with an outstanding equity story. And then the PR story of the search engine share would be just right.

For years, stockbrokers around the world have been dreaming of a high-tech company going public on the stock exchange. Their mouths water at the thought of the Google IPO, the initial public offering. Their hope: The Google IPO could follow on from the spectacular IPOs of Netscape in 1995 or that of the online auction house eBay in 1998. "Nevertheless, one should first take a close look at how smoothly the whole thing is going before drawing any conclusions about the rest of the industry," warns Knut Woller, chief analyst for technology stocks at HypoVereinsbank in Munich. "But the signs are of course good, especially when you consider how badly the entire Internet sector has suffered in the past three and a half years."

Hopes worth billions

Even the list of Google financiers reads like a "Who's Who" of high-tech legends. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital already had the right nose as the midwifery of giant companies such as Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com, AOL or Cisco Systems. With the money from the venture capitalists and the marketing know-how of Eric Schmidt, the idea of ​​two college students became the top dog among search engines in around five years - estimated value at the upcoming IPO: more than 15 billion dollars. Schmidt has been a fixture in the Silicon Valley south of San Francisco as the head of technology at Sun Microsystems since the 1980s. In addition to his job at Google, he tries to lead the former software giant Novell out of the crisis as CEO.

It is Google's profitability that makes the hearts of stock marketers beat faster. So far, no business figures have been published, but experts estimate that Google makes around $ 150 million profit with annual sales of $ 500 million. "That is the decisive difference to the IPOs in the late 1990s," says Knut Woller from HypoVereinsbank: "People know it because everyone uses it and the company is highly profitable. An IPO by Google will therefore have a signal effect, not any Question."

Money to fight Microsoft?

Even if business is going well, the team around Google boss Eric Schmidt could use the money to invest in new services. The history of Google's origins proves how quickly a competitor can appear out of nowhere. It took college students Larry Page and Sergej Brin just five years to turn their idea into the dominant search engine on the Internet, with an estimated market share of more than 70 percent. For English internet users, "to google" has already become a synonym for searching the internet.

No wonder that the "Googlepol" would sooner or later call another information technology monopoly on the scene. For years it has been rumored that Microsoft wanted to push into the market with its own search engine and a billion dollar budget. As early as the summer of 1997, the rumors had risen for the first time that Bill Gates company was going to unleash a search engine under the code name "Yukon".

Constantly new features

Since this year Microsoft has been experimenting with a web spider, a robot that, following the principle of Google, browses the Internet for information and saves it for search queries.

And so the Google crew is doing anything but rest on their laurels. Anyone who regularly clicks on the homepage will be surprised again and again with innovations. The latest highlight of the Google strategists: the Google Alert keeps Internet searchers up to date about new search results from previous inquiries by email. The service is free, but users have to register. And where the journey is really going with the supposedly ad-free and honest helpers at Google, the Google News or the product search engine "Froogle" show. Test operations for the new search portal have recently started - for all products that can be bought online, as the Google marketing strategists promise.