RealTime IT News

Report: Google IPO Auction in Works

Web search powerhouse Google has contacted investment banks about an initial public offering (IPO) that could value the company in the range of $15 billion and $25 billion, according to separate reports in the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

Many observers believe a Google IPO, which has been the subject of rampant speculation in recent months, would be the most valuable public offering since the heady days of the dot-com era.

One report said the company was considering an open online auction to "acknowledge the millions of users who have turned the closely held concern into a cultural icon." However, final decisions on a number of matters have not yet been made.

Google has reportedly whittled down the list of investment banks it has considered to underwrite the IPO but there is no word on the timing of the filing or how many shares will be offered.

The news comes a few months after Google's co-founder and president of technology Sergey Brin insisted there were no plans for an IPO. ""The distraction, I think, is a problem...Having to deal with numbers on a quarterly basis," Brin said in March this year.

An IPO filing would give the public its first glimpse into the finances of the search technology darling. Google's success in the paid search sector has heightened interest in that red-hot sector and industry watchers are salivating at the chance to peek at the company's balance sheet.

The privately held Google is believed to be profitable.

Google officials could not be reached for comment. Both publications said spokespersons declined to discuss the IPO plans.

Google conducts about 200 million searches daily. In addition to paid search ads that appear alongside search results, the company generates revenue from licensing its search technology to enterprise clients, including big-name firms like Yahoo and Time Warner's America Online unit.

Google's early stage backers in include California-based Stanford University and VC firms Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital.