Why are there two ticker symbols for Google — GOOGL and GOOG?
- GOOG stock represents Class C shares, while GOOGL stock represents Class A shares.
- Class C shares (GOOG) have no voting rights, while Class A shares (GOOGL) have one vote each.
- Anyone who owned Google stock before the split got one share of the voting GOOGL stock and one share of the non-voting GOOG stock.
- Of course, there are also Class B shares of Google stock, which do not trade in the public market, are owned by Google insiders and each get ten votes.
- The fine print: Every time the company sells a share of Class C stock, it also must convert one Class B share into a Class A share.
- Also, Google (as the result of a class-action settlement around the stock split) will compensate non-voting GOOG stock investors in a year if there is a substantial difference in price between the two classes.
- Google Class A and C shares will both be represented on Nasdaq OMX indices such as the Nasdaq-100 through June 20. Thus, the Nasdaq-100 will actually have 101 constituents during this time.
- Google Class A shares will stop being listed on Nasdaq OMX indices after the quarterly rebalance on June 23, and Google instead will be represented on such indices by the Class C shares. Class A shares will continue to trade on the exchange, however.
Note that these used to be a single "common" share that has "split" (actually a "special dividend" but effectively a split).
If you owned one share of Google before the split, you had one share giving you X worth of equity in the company and 1 vote. After the split you have two shares giving you the same X worth of equity and 1 vote. In other words, zero change. Buy or sell either depending on how much you value the vote and how much you think others will pay (or not) for that vote in the future.
As Google issues new shares, it'll likely issue more of the new non-voting shares meaning dilution of equity but not dilution of voting power. For most of us, our few votes count for nothing so evaluate this as you will.
Google's founders believe they can do a better job running the company long-term when there are fewer pressures from outside holders who may have only short-term interests in mind. If you disagree, or if you are only interested in the short-term, you probably shouldn't be an owner of Google.
As always, evaluate the facts for yourself, your situation, and your beliefs.