10ks - effectively, a company's annual report - are usually deadly boring documents filled with legalese with an occasional interesting tidbit buried within. Google's 10k, like the company, is anything but boring. I read through all 101 pages of the document, filed late last week.
I learned that:
The company's headcount has doubled in the last year to 10,600 employees
It has $11 billion of cash in the bank
That 7% of its revenues came from AOL last year, and that a year ago it valued AOL at $20 billion when it bought 5%.
That it has to generate at least $900 million in advertising traffic in the next four years from ads placed on MySpace pages in order for its deal with Fox to make any money.
That the runnup in Google's stock price after it announced the You Tube acquisition last year enabled it to pay 27% less than originally planned, or $1.2 billion instead of $1.65 billion.
And that Google has taken $150 million in stock out of that price and put it in escrow to cover copyright lawsuits.
You also learn that Google is offering its advertisers something called Site Targeting "a service that lets advertisers target specific web sites with text, image and Flash ads, so that they can more effectively reach specific sets of customers. In addition to targeting sites by content, advertisers can choose placements on sites based on user demographic attributes. To protect user privacy, we use only third-party opt-in panel data to map the demographics of sites in our networks." (bold is mine)
Does this mean that Google is marrying its treasure trove of online data on users with third party offline data to create advertising profiles? Sure looks that way. I personally don't care what Google knows about me, but I bet lots of other folks wouldn't mind a little more detail on how specific this database gets. Does Google know where I live and my searching and spending habits? Or does it just have anonymous data for people in my zip code?
You find a detailed explanation of how Google thinks about itself for the first time. For years pundits have debated whether Google was a media or a technology company. It attempts to answer the question this way: "We began as a technology company and have evolved into a software, technology, internet, advertising and media company all rolled into one. We take technology innovation very seriously. We compete aggressively for talent, and our people drive our innovation, technology development and operations. We strive to hire the best computer scientists and engineers to help us solve very significant challenges across systems design, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, networking, software engineering, testing, distributed systems, cluster design and other areas. We work hard to provide an environment where these talented people can have fulfilling jobs and produce technological innovations that have a positive effect on the world through daily use by millions of people.
You learn that there is a reason Googlers are no longer allowed to tell one another "to Google" someone or something (I was told this in passing at a dinner there a month ago). It's because " there is a risk that the word “Google” could become so commonly used that it becomes synonymous with the word “search.” If this happens, we could lose protection for this trademark, which could result in other people using the word “Google” to refer to their own products, thus diminishing our brand."
And you discover that while Google has been arguably the most successful company in the world for the past four years, it is deeply paranoid. The "risk factors" section of any 10k is typically boilerplate but Google found a way to make it interesting - coming up with 36 of them including some like this: "A large amount of information on the Internet is provided in proprietary document formats such as Microsoft Word. The providers of the software application used to create these documents could engineer the document format to prevent or interfere with our ability to access the document contents with our search technology. This would mean that the document contents would not be included in our search results even if the contents were directly relevant to a search. The software providers may also seek to require us to pay them royalties in exchange for giving us the ability to search documents in their format. If the software provider also competes with us in the search business, they may give their search technology a preferential ability to search documents in their proprietary format. Any of these results could harm our brand and our operating results."
Translation: Microsoft hates us and to retaliate they may make it impossible for any of our software to index or even read Microsoft Office documents. As a result we would be screwed.