In 18 months the company has quadrupled in size, now employing more than 1,300 people. Annualized revenues have sextupled, to about $900 million. Annualized pretax profits have grown by a factor of 23, to about $350 million, according to a handful of people who have been told the figures. Only a few high-tech companies in history, like Apple, Compaq, Sun, and more recently Amazon.com, have generated that kind of revenue growth so fast. None has made as much money doing itnot even Netscape, which grew faster than Google has but made money in only one of its years.
An IPO is expected to produce a valuation of $20 billion.
On the other hand, some skeptics point out that Google does not have a tight grip on its audience. It could take a nosedive if some more attractive search engine came along. Anyone remember AltaVista? It's still around, but certainly does not dominate the search engine scene the way it once did and the way Google does today. Further, efforts to lock customers in may clash with Google's corporate culture, as described by co-founder Brin: “I wouldn't pursue anythingwhat's the buzzword? sticky?for the sake of having something sticky. Users will put up with it for a while, but at the first opportunity they'll change. So I'm not a big fan of handcuffing.”
One point is certain: Google should gird for a major fight when Microsoft's soon-to-be-rolled-out new search engine makes its debut. [Netlawblog]