Last year Barron’s reported that it appeared that Google would have to file statements with the SEC by April 30th of this year, because it had more than 500 shareholders. SEC rules require that private companies with 500 or more shareholders (including option holders) have to file within 120 days of the year after the 500 mark is reached. The deadline is approaching, and the curtain raising has begun. The Merc has the first one I’ve seen.
Google may not want to undergo the cultural shift that takes place in companies when they have to meet analyst and shareholder expectations every quarter. Google may turn out to be the rare company that willingly files public financial reports but doesn’t publicly trade its stock.
Levi Strauss is one company that does this. Its stock is privately held — mostly by descendants of the Strauss family — but the company files quarterly reports with the SEC.
Another option is for Google to dodge the public reporting requirement. In 2001, the SEC detailed how companies can do so: by disclosing their financial information only to shareholders
If Google chooses this latter option, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for an employee to leak his or her statements. I’d wager about a day.