The “Dutch Auction” method of launching an IPO

The Google IPO

The “Dutch Auction” method of launching an IPO

Google went public on August 19, 2004, using the “Dutch Auction” method. Ever since the announcement on the IPO was made in April 2004, the IPO became mired in some controversy or other. On the one hand, it was a much-awaited IPO — most IPOs had not performed well in 2004, so investors were eagerly looking forward to the Google IPO as Google was a highly profitable company. On the other hand, most investment bankers had expressed their concerns about the IPO and had declared it to be a failure even before its launch. Many bankers said that though Google was profitable at that point, it would not remain so for very long because its competitors – Yahoo and Microsoft — were gaining fast on it.Google’s dual share system also came in for criticism. This system, considered antiquated, was described by most investors as unfair. Just a week before the launch of the IPO, Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page violated the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission by breaking the “quiet period”. Another violation that SEC discovered was Google’s failure to report the shares that it had issued to its employees and consultants in the period September 2001 and July 2004. These issues heightened the controversies surrounding the IPO. Unnerved by these controversies, Brin and Page declared just a day before the launch, that the price of shares had been reduced to $85 and $95. The number of shares available was also cut down. However, all these controversies notwithstanding, the Google IPO performed exceedingly well. It helped the company to collect $1.4 billion, and put Google’s valuation at nearly $30 billion. The success of the IPO effectively silenced all its detractors.

Issues:

  1. The “Dutch Auction” method of launching an IPO

  2. The difference betweeen the conventional IPO launch and the “Dutch Auction” launch and the advantages and drawbacks of both the systems

  3. The behavior of investors and investment bankers before the launch of an IPO

  4. The features of the IPO that are generally under the scrutiny of investors

  1. How controversies before an IPO launch can be harmful to a company 

  2. The nature and mechanism of Google’s working and operations

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