Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google’s Revenue Slumps, but Cost-Cutting Pays Off

google-logoAs predicted, Google saw its revenue decline from the last quarter of 2008 to the first three months of this year. The search giant said it generated net revenue of $4.07 billion, which is down from the 4.22 billion Google notched in the previous quarter, and a it’s tad shy of the $4.08 billion consensus.

But investors are going to be pleased with the non-GAAP earnings number: $5.16 share, up from $5.10 per share in the previous quarter and way, way above the $4.90 per share consensus. Bottom line: Google (GOOG) has cut back on its expenditures, and that’s boosted profits.

Here’s how: “Operating expenses, other than cost of revenues, were $1.52 billion in the first quarter of 2009, or 28% of revenues, compared to $1.65 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, or 29% of revenues. The operating expenses in the first quarter of 2009 included $774 million in payroll-related and facilities expenses, compared to $890 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.”

And here’s one way to keep “payroll-related expenses” down: Stop hiring people. “On a worldwide basis, Google employed 20,164 full-time employees as of March 31, 2009, down from 20,222 full-time employees as of December 31, 2008.”

Meanwhile, Google is still moving its sales team around following Tim Armstrong’s departure.

Earnings call starting now. I’ll update as we go.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt: “We’re still basically in uncharted territory… users are still searching, but they’re buying less… advertisers are still spending, but they’re spending less.” That’s all appropriate, he says. Google’s auction model is working. Ad dollars are still moving from offline to online.

Apologies: I now have three Google stories breaking simultaneously, and I’m going to have to duck in and out of the live call.

Sorry for the gap. Here’s Schmidt talking about getting long-form content on YouTube: Initial focus will be on advertising, but will add in micropayments and other schemes down the line. Will be announcing additional things in that area “literally very very soon.”

Schmidt asked about Twitter: “It proves that innovation is alive and well in Silicon Valley… it is an incredibly useful thing. The question here is how would you make some money on that… and the logical conclusion would be advertising, and we’d happy to work on that with them.”


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”