Gloating at Google

Did you hear that sigh of relief? Or a great wave of sniggers? Did you find yourself unable to resist gloating as Google stock sank 10%? You had a lot of company the world-wide as the Internet share came a cropper.

It was not because you begrudged the company its success, or because you were angry that Larry Page and Sergei Brin, two 30-year olds, took all of seven years to set up one of the five biggest companies in the world. It was because Google, like Internet in general, threatens some of the most firmly established business models in the corporate world.

More than any other company, Google brings information to customers, to consumers, to economic players. Google has made many of the business world's mediators obsolete. Google is an acute threat to traders, brokers, advertisers, and media companies.

Last week, for the first time since it went public, Google disappointed. Its fourth-quarter 2005 financial results fell short of analyst expectations. Google or not, it got the full Wall Street treatment and investors trounced it without mercy.

But all you Google-gloaters out there should note three points.

First of all, its "weak" results were $1.5 billion profit, and $2.5 billion cash flow for the year 2005.That lifted its cash position to $8 billion.

Two, when Google's share price fell, so did all of Wall Street, which demonstrates the weight investors relate to the company.

Three, Google as a company may make management mistakes; it may not properly exploit its status among hundreds of millions of people; but the new business models driving Google aren't about to disappear. If anything, they will grow stronger.

If figures, profits and business models don't appeal to you, look at Google like this. It is the only company in the world with up-to-date intentions of hundreds of millions of people. Not what they did, or are doing, but what they have in mind: what they mean to do. How? Because when they want to do something, they start with Google.

If in 2006 you fail to grasp how important Internet  is to the business world, you're going to wake up in 2010 and realize you don't know the rules of the game.