Two things stick in my memory about the Google IPO: The Dutch auction was a disaster, and a lot people weren't sure what it did or how it would fly as a listed company. I know it sounds ridiculous, but explaining the concept of a search engine in 2004 was a stretch, even though it had been out for a few years. Even if you could explain it, no one could figure out how you could make a multibillion industry out of it.
Google went public on Aug. 19, 2004. It was not an auspicious start. It ended up pricing 19.6 million shares at $85, the low end of its revised price expectation of $85-$95.
Even that was a disappointment. Google had initially hoped to sell 25.9 million shares somewhere between $108 and $135. It closed the first day at $100.34, a price gain of 18 percent, respectable but certainly no blowout for what many considered to be the hottest tech offering since the dot-com blowup of 2000.
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Part of the problem was the way it went public, insisting on using the controversial Dutch auction method. In a Dutch auction, investors enter their bids for the number of shares they want to purchase as well as the price they are willing to pay. The allotment is given to the highest bidders on down until all the stock is sold.
Obviously, what the founders thought the company was worth didn't exactly match what the public was willing to pay.
(Scroll through an interactive timeline of Google's post-IPO history, below)