What’s interesting to see is what Google does as a business. The Yahoo! news site ran an Associated Press story that says the AP ‘obtained’ a copy of the regulatory filing that Google filed December 15, 2008 and it revealed some interesting things about the company and what is going on there.
First, it’s interesting that it was filed in paper form only. This practice avoids the online aggregators of these public records from being able to post the filing through their normal channels. I suspect these folks will have it sooner than later but the intentionality of Google providing the filing this way is curious. Trying to fly under the radar? Who knows.
The area of biggest speculation is what Google is doing to navigate the economic doldrums we find ourselves in. Google’s Sergey Brin noted back in October that the company had roughly 10,000 interns, contractors and temporary workers in its ranks but this filing only talks of 4,300. Some conjecture circles around whether there have been large cuts on this side of Google’s workforce. Google spokeswoman, Jane Penner has said that the 4,300 number is just a subset of the 10,000 so it would be incorrect to see the difference in these two numbers as a trimming of staff and workers. Spin, spin, spin.
One thing that Google has assured everyone is that they will not be cutting back on research and development. In fact some of the document was not made public due to its contents containing trade secrets. That’s good to hear. Unfortunately for the ‘Googlers’ in Mountain View that has come at the expense of many perks that Google has become famous for including company-wide cash bonuses (the poor staffers had to suffer through a free Android phone gift this year) and some food services.
From a pure business perspective the other area that the company is seeking to improve in is what to do with the $14 billion in cash they currently have. Right now, Google is not exempt from using its money in ways that other big players like Microsoft and Yahoo! are. Google is looking for the ability to use their money in ways that can provide greater returns without being considered its own mutual fund.
While Google is the best and the brightest (for the most part due to their tremendous influence) in enabling people to do business and make a living it is still a company. I think it might be to all of our benefits to remember that and watch what they are up to in that role. Maybe we’ll learn something.