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  • Nick Burgess

Googl Stock vs Goog: Why Does Google Have Two Stocks?

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Why Does Google Have Two Stocks?

In the labyrinthine corridors of Wall Street and the pulsating heart of Silicon Valley, the enigma of Google's dual-stock system stands as a testament to the ingenious, albeit controversial, financial engineering that shapes the landscape of our digital age., the main product of Alphabet

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, has a peculiar stock structure that piques the curiosity of retail and institutional investors alike, drawing us into a deeper exploration of the rationale behind having two types of stock tickers: GOOGL and GOOG shares. This bifurcation raises a fundamental question: Why does Google—or more accurately, Alphabet Inc.—flaunt this dual-class shareholder system?


Explaining Voting Rights

At the core of this financial conundrum lies the concept of voting rights, a cornerstone of corporate governance that allows shareholders to influence major decisions during shareholder meetings. Google's stock stratification into Class A shares (GOOGL), Class B shares, and Class C shares (GOOG) is a masterstroke by the company's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to maintain control of the company while still harnessing the wealth of the public markets, hearkening back to non-tech companies of yesteryear that were similarly devious.


The tale begins with Class A shares, the common stock that grants individual investors voting power, albeit with a singular vote per share. This type of stock is the bread and butter for the retail investors and financial institutions that seek both a slice of Alphabet's market share and a say in its operations. Then, we have the Class B shares, the Excalibur wielded by company insiders like Page, Brin, and select Alphabet executives. Each Class B share comes with a mighty 10 votes, a veritable fortress safeguarding the founders' voting power and their ability to dictate the strategic direction of Alphabet—including Google Search, Google Maps, Google Cloud, and the array of Google services that define our digital existence.


But the plot thickens with the introduction of Class C shares (GOOG), a third class of shares that comes without any voting rights. This might seem like a raw deal at first glance—why invest in a company without having a say in its future? The answer lies in the strategic maneuvering of Alphabet to issue new shares without diluting the voting power of Page and Brin or upsetting the balance of power within the board of directors.


Different Shares, Different Rights

The stock ticker symbols GOOGL and GOOG reflect this dichotomy, offering investors trading options that cater to different priorities. GOOGL stock, with its voting rights, appeals to those who wish to partake in Alphabet's corporate decision-making. On the other hand, GOOG stock provides a slightly higher price point for those more focused on the financial upside, unfettered by the desire for governance influence.


This dual-class system is not unique to Alphabet; it echoes the arrangements seen in other titans of industry, such as Meta Platforms, General Electric, and even possibly the Dallas Mavericks, allowing company founders to secure their vision against the tumult of activist investors and short-term market pressures. Yet, it also raises questions about corporate democracy and the equitable treatment of shareholders, particularly when it comes to major decisions that can shape the company's long-term trajectory.


The main difference between the classes of shares ultimately boils down to the balance of power and the long-term vision for Alphabet Inc. Class B stock, held tightly by insiders, ensures that the strategic direction of Alphabet—and by extension, its myriad operations like Google Play, Google Drive, and the life sciences ventures under Alphabet—is steered by those who have been at the helm since its nascent days in a Stanford dorm room.


Market capitalization, share price, and past performance are critical metrics for any investment decision, yet the decision between GOOGL and GOOG shares transcends mere numbers. It involves a philosophical stance on the role of a shareholder in the digital age's corporate colossuses. Retail investors and new investors are granted easier access to one of the world's largest companies through GOOG shares, albeit at the cost of forsaking a direct voice in its operations. Institutional investors, with a keener eye on governance and the long-term implications of shareholder votes, might lean towards GOOGL shares.


The introduction of a 20-for-1 stock split in 2022 further complicated this whole fucking mess, aiming to make Alphabet shares more accessible to a broader audience by lowering the current price point, yet without altering the fundamental dynamics of voting rights and control. This move, reminiscent of similar strategies by other public companies to broaden their investor base, underscores Alphabet's ambition to democratize investment in its future, even if it means navigating the contentious waters of dual-class shareholding systems.


In the end, whether GOOGL or GOOG shares represent a better buy hinges on the investor's priorities. Are you seeking a better investment that offers a stake in one of the most influential tech conglomerates, or are you after the rare opportunity to exert a modicum of influence over the direction of a company that has, in many ways, become synonymous with the internet itself?


The dual-class stock system, with all its nuances—from the types of stock to the special dividends and the convoluted mechanisms of shareholder meetings—invites us to reconsider not just the financial aspects of our investment decisions, but also the broader implications of corporate governance and shareholder rights in the digital era. The choice between GOOGL and GOOG is emblematic of a larger debate over the power dynamics between company founders, retail investors, and institutional investors in steering the future of global behemoths.


The dual-class structure, while controversial, ensures that Alphabet can continue to pursue ambitious, long-term projects that may not immediately translate to market share or financial success but promise to redefine our technological landscape. This approach, championed by Page and Brin, reflects a steadfast commitment to innovation, guarded by the protective bulwark of Class B shares against the short-term interests that often dominate public market pressures.


For retail and institutional investors alike, the choice between GOOGL and GOOG is more than an investment decision—it's a philosophical alignment with the vision and governance model of one of the largest companies on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Whether aiming for long-term involvement in Alphabet's decision-making process or seeking to capitalize on its market performance, investors must weigh the implications of Alphabet's stock structure on their portfolios and their principles.


In a world increasingly dominated by a handful of tech conglomerates, Alphabet's dual-class shareholder system serves as a critical case study in the balance of power, control, and innovation. It challenges us to consider the role of investors in shaping the future not only of companies like Alphabet but of the technology landscape at large. As we ponder the "better buy" between GOOGL and GOOG shares, we're also contemplating the future of corporate governance, investor rights, and the shape of innovation in the decades to come.


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