All smiles at Google shareholder meeting

May 8, 2008 7:26:35 PM PDT
Mountain View-based Google is breathing easier these days now that Microsoft has backed off its pursuit of Yahoo, at least for now. Google's stock is on the rebound, just in time for its annual shareholders meeting.

Google's 16,000 employees had visitors on Thursday -- shareholders invited to hear how the company is doing. Shareholders arrived with smiles on their faces.

"I think the technology sector seems to be doing well, and Google among all the others I think is really doing well. I'm very happy with that," says Richard Wang who bought Google when it went public four years ago.

"I think they're (a) very successful, well managed company. I think very highly of them... I'm doing very well, thank you. I wish I had more," says Eva Denes who bought Google at $350. Now it's $583 -- a gain of $233.

Like many companies, though, Google has hit economic headwinds. Concern last fall that Internet advertising might soften caused it stock to tumble. However, a solid first quarter allowed executives to share good news at the annual meeting which is webcast, but closed to the media.

"I think things are going well and it's a good message," says Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt.

However, human rights groups did criticize Google for not doing enough to address censorship issues in China with the Olympics coming up.

"As the games approach, it is more important than ever that companies like Google demonstrate leadership to insure that they are not a party to such repressive tactics," says Robert Roscoff with Amnesty International.

Shareholder proposals to urge Google to do more about Chinese censorship and to create a human rights committee failed.

Co-founder Sergey Brin surprised some by abstaining -- not voting against a human rights committee.

"I think there is certainly room for us to have a group of independent people in Google who meet regularly to discuss these questions," says Brin.

Analysts say Google still could be hurt by the economic downturn.

"So we are concerned a little bit about the U.S... however we think the international market is very strong," says technology analyst Sandeep Aggarwal with Collins Stewart.


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