The Securities and Exchange Commission will be examining the September issue of Playboy even more closely than normal. The reason? The appearance of a pair of boobs at a particularly sensitive time.
The boobs in question are Google Inc. founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who have punctuated the company's mandatory pre-IPO period with an extensive interview with the monthly. The interview itself was conducted on 22 April, at the end of a Spring publicity campaign. Google filed its initial public offering a week later.
"This interview is going to cause regulatory concern," a former SEC attorney tells USA Today. "There could be consequences." Columnist John C Dvorak adds, "You cannot live in and around Silicon Valley and not know you cannot do this stuff. I think many of these stunts are perhaps on purpose," he says, a theme echoed on bulletin boards. [Er - nice beaver, John].
The concerns maybe premature. SEC is only likely to get involved if the statements differ from public filings. As the Washington Post noted in May, Google hadn't exactly been reticent after filing its Coca Cola Jingle. But there's nothing new here you haven't heard many times before.
Simply the obligatory references to Rollerblades and Segways, random toys, not being evil, helping school children in Cambodia (by giving them Gmail accounts) and connecting Google "to your mind". We learn that Larry Page "wore shoes" throughout the interview and that at one point he vowed, oddly, "we will not hold your email hostage." He suggests that Google-gamers who "optimize" their results for the search engine may eventually find "realize that it's more efficient just to pay to promote their things, if that's what they want to do."
We know this, because leaving nothing to chance, Google has reprinted the entire Playboy interview on its IPO website, with the following warning
Risk Factors—If our involvement in a September 2004 magazine article about Google were held to be in violation of the Securities Act of 1933, we could be required to repurchase securities sold in this offering. You should rely only on statements made in this prospectus in determining whether to purchase our shares for certain information in the following article that has been modified or updated.
Due diligence? They've heard of it.®
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