Amidst all the controversy and confusion, Larry and Sergey made another misstep. Once the registration statement was filed with the SEC, Google would be in the required quiet period until the stock actually sold. During this time, the company was prohibited from doing or saying anything that would hype the shares.

In April, just a month before they would be filing for the IPO and entering the SEC-mandated quiet period, they granted an interview to Playboy magazine. Clearly there was risk that the article would appear before the IPO was complete. When the story came up in an issue of the girly rag, questions again arose as to the founders' maturity. While the story didn't run until the September 2004 issue, copies of the magazine usually are available or on newsstands long before the publication date. Thus, the "candid conversation" did become public during the silent period. Again, it seemed as if the IPO might be interrupted. But after weeks of worry and scrambling by Google's attorneys, the SEC agreed to allow the story to be listed as an addendum to the S1, making it formally part of the full disclosure requirement.

It helped settle stormy waters when all three top executives—Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt—in the runup to the IPO reduced their annual salaries to a dollar a year and refused bonuses, tying their personal wealth directly to the company's performance in the stock market. Google was back on track to be one of the most unique ...

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