Google is one of the most recognizable companies in the world and has a massive reach in almost every major online category. As giants in search and advertising, Google has established itself as one of the largest tech companies in the world. Google, and more directly its parent company, Alphabet, is one of the most valuable companies globally.
As a publically traded company, shares of Google can be bought and traded through online brokerages. Today, we are going to learn who actually owns Google stock, plus a bit about how the company is structured. Owning shares of a company means partial ownership of that company, so really, we are going to learn a bit about who owns Google itself today.
Let’s get started!
Google’s Strange Stock Breakdown
For most companies, understanding the different shares is pretty easy. There is a certain amount of outstanding shares, and each share counts as a single vote in the company. The person with the most shares has the most say in the company and the most stake in the success or failure of the company. Google, however, has quite a unique structure.
First, it’s important to know that Google isn’t actually the company that is traded, but a subsidiary of the parent company known as Alphabet, Inc. For our purposes today and for most people, however, Alphabet and Google are used almost interchangeably since Google is such a large portion of Alphabet, overall.
Second, it’s important to know that there are three types (classes) of stocks that Alphabet/Google has. These shares are divided into A, B, and C classes and each has its own level of voting power and value.
Breaking Down Alphabet’s Stock Classes
- Class A shares are the most “normal” shares and are publically traded on the stock exchange under the ticker symbol GOOGL. These shares provide standard voting rights of a single vote per share.
- Class B shares are the most exclusive and are not publically traded on the stock exchange. These shares are owned exclusively by the founders, with each share counting for 10 total votes. Currently, only Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and a few other directors own Class B shares.
- Class C shares are like a “lesser” version of Class A shares. They are publically traded under the ticker symbol GOOG, but don’t have any voting rights associated with them. The most common shareholder of Class C shares are employees and some Class A shareholders.
The reason for the different share classes? Voting power.
When a founder or owner wants to maintain voting rights in their company, one of the best ways to do that is through share ownership. In extremely large companies like Google, however, it’s really hard to maintain power due to stock dilution.
Dilution is when more shares are available, spreading ownership and voting power out. Through Class B shares, founders are able to maintain voting control, and through Class C shares, stock options are able to be distributed without impacting voting power and control.
Who Actually Owns Google Stock?
Now that we understand the different types of shares, we can better see who owns these shares, plus the relative power that comes with owning them.
The top three individual shareholders of Google are Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Sundar Pichai.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the well-known founders of Google and have maintained skin in the company for as long as it’s been around. Currently, Page and Brin sit on the board of the company, while Pichai is the CEO. It’s important to know that the share percentages listed below fluctuate, but are also an estimation/amalgamation of their Class B shares converted into relative Class A shares since Class B shares aren’t actually available on the market.
Larry Page owns around 19.8 million shares in the company, or around 3.0% of all outstanding shares. These shares make Page one of the richest men in the world and one of the biggest single voices in the direction of the company.
Sergey Brin has around 19 million shares in the company, or around 2.9% of all outstanding shares. Like Page, Brin is a member of the board, has a lot of sway in the company, and is extremely wealthy as a result of his position in the company.
One of the other largest individual holders in the company is Sundar Pichai. Pichai is the sitting CEO of the company, not a founder, but has still been compensated via stock options. Pichai has roughly 90,000 shares, or about .01% of the company, showing just how powerful of a voice the two founders have, even in relation to the CEO of the company.
Institutional investors are different than individual investors in that they are much larger and generally collective in nature, representing around 35% of the Class A shares and 32% of the Class C shares. Yahoo! Finance puts the total institutional shares held a bit differently, with GOOGL being 78% owned by institutions and GOOG being 63.34% owned by institutions.
In both classes of shares, two groups own a large percentage, Vanguard, and Blackrock. Here’s a full breakdown of both.
|Institutional Holder||Percentage Owned|
|Price (T.Rowe) Associates, Inc.||3.34%|
|State Street Corporation||3.24%|
|Geode Capital Management, LLC||1.59%|
|JP Morgan Chase & Company||1.28%|
|Capital International Investors||1.27%|
|Northern Trust Corporation||1.02%|
|Institutional Holder||Percentage Owned|
|State Street Corporation||3.64%|
|Price (T.Rowe) Associates, Inc.||1.94%|
|Geode Capital Management, LLC||1.93%|
|Norges Bank Investment Management||1.67%|
|Bank of America Corporation||1.25%|
|Northern Trust Corporation||1.16%|
Alphabet has three classes of shares, each with an intended use and purpose. These shares are owned by insiders and institutional investors alike.
Here’s what’s important to remember:
- Class A shares are standard shares for a company and are worth one vote per share.
- The founders and a few other insiders own Class B shares. Class B shares aren’t publicly traded and are worth 10 votes per share.
- Class C shares are publically traded but do not afford voting rights in the company.
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the two largest individual shareholders.
- Blackrock and Vanguard are the two largest institutional shareholders.
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