Google co-founder Larry Page and chief executive Eric Schmidt, guarded tightly by security, were at the Nasdaq stock market's broadcasting facility in Manhattan on Thursday as the Web's most popular search engine began trading as a public company.

   

After ending its unconventional auction to price and sell the shares on Wednesday, Google sold 19.6 million shares at $85 each, raising $1.67 billion, the biggest IPO so far by an internet company.

   

The shares ended trade at $100.34, up $15.34, or 18%, valuing the company at $27.2 billion and its founders' stakes at $4.35 billion. Trade ranged from a high of $104.06 to a low of $95.96.

 

Slight dip

   

Google shares dipped slightly in after-hours trade after Nasdaq closed on Thursday, to $100.02, but analysts expected the shares to be well supported in the weeks ahead as buyers who missed out on the auction place bids.

   

"There were a fair amount of institutional buyers that stayed out the auction but came in (today)"

Martin Pyykkonen,
analyst at Janco Partners

"There were a fair amount of institutional buyers that stayed out the auction but came in (today)," said Martin Pyykkonen, an analyst at Janco Partners, on Thursday. "I see a floor in the $90s."

   

Workers at Googleplex, the glassy corporate complex in Silicon Valley, waved off reporters' questions about their big payday as they showed up for work on a cool Thursday morning.

 

Local businesses reported that some of Google's 2300 employees had been shopping recently for new cars and toys.

 

Google, however, did not fetch the price it had initially targeted for its IPO. On Wednesday, it slashed the expected price range on the shares to between $85 and $95, down from a previous range of $108 to $135.

 

It also cut the number of shares offered to 19.6 million from 25.7 million.