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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 05:35 GMT 06:35 UK
Google's move inspires hi-tech firms

By Kevin Anderson
BBC News Online in Virginia

Technology workers are not partying like it's 1999.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Google's success has revived hopes of a high-tech market revival
But on Thursday they were displaying a cautious optimism that the announcement that search superstar Google is to float on the US stock market is another sign of an industry recovery.

And as tech workers just outside of Washington gathered for after-hours drinks on Thursday, many were talking about Google's initial public offering (IPO).

They do not expect a stock market debut like the dot.com stocks, but they say Google is different than the masses of dotcom companies in the late 1990s.

It is a solid, profitable company based on performance, not on hype.

'Staggering numbers'

Google's announcement did have the feel of dotcom days when it became a national obsession to watch the roaring stock market.

Stuart Morgan
Morgan survived the crash of the late 1990s

Average Americans kept tabs on the red-hot IPO market when Internet companies made their market debuts and rose to mind-boggling levels on their first day.

That ended with the crash when the stocks came back to earth - the hype of the dotcom days gave way to economic reality and internet "millionaires" watched their fortunes evaporate.

The attention Google has received over its IPO hasn't been seen since the late 1990s.

And as Google ended weeks of speculation, financial news networks such as CNBC broke into their coverage.

The CNBC reporter called Google's numbers staggering. It was the first time that anyone had a sense of how successful the company had been at selling search on the internet.

And the numbers were good, very good.

Its profits have more than doubled from a year ago to $63.9m in the first quarter of 2004, and the company had $454m in cash on hand at the end of March.

Hope for recovery

News of Google's IPO has been a hot topic in the Dulles tech corridor just outside of the US capital Washington.

Dulles, outside Washington
Dulles is home to major offices of high-tech companies

Although not as well known as Silicon Valley, it was one of the hubs of the internet boom in the late 1990s.

Anchored by America Online, the area's office parks boast a Who's Who of the tech industry with major offices for Microsoft, Oracle and Siebel Systems just to name a few.

Stuart Morgan came to the US from Britain 10 years ago to work in the telecommunications industry in northern Virginia.

He survived the crash. It was hard times for a few years as many companies had overspent and then cut back on spending, he said.

"We're just about coming out of it," and he said it is good see the re-emergence of big technology IPOs like Google.

"Maybe this will be the flagship one that will reignite more venture capital into the hi-tech market," he said.

But he does not see Google's first day on the market taking the stock to stratospheric levels.

"I sense that everyone is more cautious these days. I think it will be a success, but it won't be a complete blitz like some of the floatations were, not like the late 90s," he said.

'Piggybacking off Google'

Ben Merchant works for security firm TruSecure and says he hasn't seen the kind of buzz generated by the Google IPO in years.

Ben Merchant
Merchant is keen to buy some Google stock

But he says this is different than the hype of the late 1990s.

Many of the stock floatations then were driven by speculation. The valuations bore no relation to the companies' performance or any reasonable expectation of future profits.

"Google provides a great service. It has become synonymous with search on the net," he said.

He hopes it bodes well for a resurgence in the technology industry.

"Google is a strong solid company. I hope that others in the technology space can piggyback off of that," he said.

Does he want to own any Google stock?

"Yeah, ya got any?"




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