Today in history: Google's IPO

Google logo

What were you doing on 19 August 2004? Larry Page and Sergey Brin were getting even richer, as the pair took Google public.

The co-founders made a lot of people wealthy that day. Anyone who managed to pick up shares in the web giant stood to do well. The auction-style IPO kicked off with a price of just $85. In November 2007, the share price peaked at $741.79 but has since settled in at $445 today - a return of some 423 per cent against the starting price.

But it's not all about the money. At the time of the IPO, some were concerned that going public would change Google. If it's now beholden to shareholders and a board, will it still be cool, still "do no evil"?

Ahead of the IPO, the founding pair offered an Owner's Manual for Google's Shareholders, which kicked off with this: "Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one."

While the company is reportedly more corporate than it used to be, it's still the kind of place that runs April Fool's pranks, that loses a snake in its own offices, and features "you can be serious without a suit" as part of its 10-point philosophy.

Of course, it's easy to get away with such things when you're posting growth in a recession - shareholders don't mind snakes as long as they're getting paid.

Click here for our tale of the tape feature pitting Google against Microsoft.