IT IS IRONIC THAT MANY of humanity’s achievements are rooted in a history of mistakes. This was true of Einstein’s theory of relativity, many of the inventions of Thomas Edison, and numerous pharmaceutical drugs (such as penicillin and Viagra), and so, too, was it true of the most successful public offering in recent history.1 Only weeks before Google’s initial public offering in 2004, the company’s founders made a critical error in judgment: they agreed to sit down for a magazine interview, something that typically is prohibited by the Securities and Exchange Commission (for fear that the information could be leaked or used to hype the stock). Beyond that, the interview was with Playboy, and that in and of itself was a bit ...

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