Last week it was reported that Microsoft and Google had met to discuss a possible buy-out. This week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates stated that the discussions never happened. Four weeks ago, it was reported that Google was going to issue an IPO in February 2004 through a “Dutch Auction” format. The next day, Google Communication Director David Krane, was all over the phones demanding retractions of the story. Obviously someone is telling stories somewhere along the line…

In this case, we think someone either at Google or associated with one of the companies hoping to float Google’s coming IPO, has leaked information to the press. We are almost certain the most recent rumour did not come from Microsoft. Even though Gates & Co. have a reputation for ruthlessness, Microsoft is a public company and is not allowed to make up stories that might have an effect on the share value of Microsoft stock. Also, Microsoft is introducing its own search tool and we see no reason for MSN to devalue it’s product (unless Google was going to be the backbone of that product).

Google, on the other hand is a private company and does not have to follow the same set of rules as a company with shareholders. Google is considered “in play” by the investment community and there is a heck of a lot of buzz around the coming IPO. It stands to reason that someone associated with the IPO, perhaps someone from within Google itself is looking to increase the value of the initial offering by increasing the number of rumours floating out there.

This is an increasingly difficult and dangerous trend. We are seeing the mainstream media being used as a promotion vehicle for Google, often promoting subjects that are erronious using quotes from Unnamed Sources. In the past month, major financial news outlets such as the Wall St. Journal, the New York Times and the Financial Times have printed articles that have turned out to be based on erronious information. We have too and the trend should stop. We will no longer print articles with quotes attributed to unnamed sources unless we have two other confirming voices backing the story, at least one of which must be willing to go on the record endorsing the story. To all readers who have felt misled by our articles, please accept our apologies, we too, like the NYTimes, WSJ and Financial Times have been misled and we are not terribly happy about it. We promise to strive for better in the future.