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Co-founder downplays Google IPO

The search-tool company has no plans to sell its shares to the public any time soon, Sergey Brin says at the PC Forum technology conference.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--Search-tool company Google has no plans to sell its shares to the public any time soon, co-founder Sergey Brin said Tuesday.

Brin discussed the reasons for not rushing an IPO during an on-stage interview with technology guru Esther Dyson at the PC Forum technology conference.

That Google is not eager to go public is understandable given that many technology stocks are trading near all-time lows and investors are distracted by the war in Iraq. Still, Google's popularity has fed persistent speculation that the company, founded in 1998, is ripe for an IPO. But Brin said there are many good reasons for going slow.

"That's a lot of work, and I'm lazy," Brin joked. "It requires filling out a lot of forms. The S1, in particular, seems like a really long one," he said, referring to the form required by the government to start the IPO process.

"Thus far, laziness has won out," he added. "There are so many other things for us to do."

More seriously, Brin explained that competitors would gain insight on Google's finances. He added that going public could cause the company to focus too closely on short-term financial concerns and distract employees who watch the day-to-day movements of the stock.

"The distraction, I think, is a problem (as well as) having to deal with numbers on a quarterly basis," Brin said.

Under the Wall Street microscope, Google also might have to cut back on the many perquisites it provides employees, such as free lunch and dinner.

Yet many employees might gladly give up some benefits in order to cash in their stock options. The financial reward to employees is one of the compelling reasons for an eventual IPO, Brin said. "So, we can't avoid it forever."

PC Forum is in its 26th year. The conference, which ends Wednesday, drew a crowd of several hundred technology executives, venture capitalists and industry watchers.