National Post Column on Playboy & Google

As should be zero surprise to folks, my National Post column on Saturday is about the Google/Playboy imbroglio. The opening few paragraphs follow. It was great fun working in the requisite number of double-entendres:

Christie Hefner of Playboy magazine should write Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page a thank-you note. While the Google guys’ interview with the adult entertainment magazine could derail Google’s initial public offering, it is a leg-up for Playboy.

Google’s founders apparently sat down for an interview with Playboy back in April, a week or so before Google filed with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to do an IPO. With the interview appearing in the September issue of Playboy, smack in the middle of the run-up to the Google IPO, Google was forced to warn late last week that the SEC was investigating whether the interview was a violation of the SEC’s quiet period rules.

Is it? Well, earlier this week I called the SEC’s rules (the SEC doesn’t like you to talk publicly prior to an IPO) nonsensical, so it should come as no surprise that I think this interview is a non-issue (and the interview snippets I have seen are inoffensive).

That said, doing the interview showed poor judgment on the Google guys’ part: It is one thing to stick your tongue out at investment bankers and tell them you won’t abide by their rules for doing an IPO, it is quite another to do the same thing to the Federal government. The former folks don’t have the police to back things up.

None of this matters to Playboy, of course: Chairman Christie is just trying to sell more magazines. If doing that happens to derail one of the largest and most closely-watched IPOs in recent memory, then so be it. Sometimes you have to break a few messy eggs to make an adult-sized omelet.