Google Inc. | 2013 | FY | 3

Google Inc. and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Nature of Operations
We were incorporated in California in September 1998 and re-incorporated in the State of Delaware in August 2003. We generate revenues primarily by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising in our Google segment. To a lesser extent, we generate revenues primarily from sales of mobile devices in our Motorola Mobile segment.
In April 2013, we completed the disposition of the Motorola Home segment to Arris Group, Inc. (Arris) and certain other persons. See Note 8 for further discussion of the disposition of the Motorola Home segment.
Basis of Consolidation
The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Google Inc. and our wholly-owned subsidiaries. All intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported and disclosed in the financial statements and the accompanying notes. Actual results could differ materially from these estimates. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate our estimates, including those related to the accounts receivable and sales allowances, fair values of financial instruments, intangible assets and goodwill, useful lives of intangible assets and property and equipment, fair values of stock-based awards, inventory valuations, income taxes, and contingent liabilities, among others. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that are believed to be reasonable, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities.
In the second quarter of 2013, we revised the estimated useful lives of certain types of property and equipment which resulted in an additional depreciation expense of $207 million during the year ended December 31, 2013.
Revenue Recognition
The following table presents our revenues by revenue source (in millions):
Year Ended December 31,
Advertising revenues:
Google websites



Google Network Members' websites



Total advertising revenues



Other revenues



Total Google revenues (advertising and other)



Motorola Mobile:
Total Motorola Mobile revenues (hardware and other)



Total revenues



We recognize revenues when the services or products have been provided or delivered, the fees we charge are fixed or determinable, we and our advertisers or other customers understand the specific nature and terms of the agreed upon transactions, and collectability is reasonably assured.
Google AdWords is our auction-based advertising program that enables advertisers to place text-based and display ads on our websites and our Google Network Members’ websites. Display advertising comprises the videos, text, images, and other interactive ads that run across the web on computers and mobile devices, including smart phones and handheld computers such as netbooks and tablets. Most of our customers pay us on a cost-per-click basis, which means that an advertiser pays us only when a user clicks on one of its ads. We also offer advertising on a cost-per-impression basis that enables advertisers to pay us based on the number of times their ads display on our websites and our Google Network Members’ websites as specified by the advertisers.
Google AdSense refers to the online programs through which we distribute our advertisers’ AdWords ads for display on our Google Network Members’ websites.
We recognize as revenues the fees charged to advertisers each time a user clicks on one of the ads that appears next to the search results or content on our websites or our Google Network Members’ websites. For those advertisers using our cost-per-impression pricing, we recognize as revenues the fees charged to advertisers each time their ads are displayed on our websites or our Google Network Members’ websites. We report our Google AdSense revenues on a gross basis principally because we are the primary obligor to our advertisers.
For hardware product sales, where we sell directly to end customers or through distribution channels, revenue recognition generally occurs when products have been shipped, risk of loss has transferred to the customer, objective evidence exists that customer acceptance provisions have been met, no significant obligations remain and allowances for discounts, price protection, returns and customer incentives can be reasonably and reliably estimated. Recorded revenues are reduced by these allowances. Where these allowances cannot be reasonably and reliably estimated, we recognize revenue at the time the product sells through the distribution channel to the end customer.
For the sale of certain third-party products and services, we evaluate whether it is appropriate to recognize revenue based on the gross amount billed to the customers or the net amount earned as revenue share. Generally, when we are primarily obligated in a transaction, are subject to inventory risk or have latitude in establishing prices, or have several but not all of these indicators, revenue is recorded on a gross basis. We generally record the net amounts as revenue share earned if we are not primarily obligated and do not have inventory risk or latitude in establishing prices. Such amounts earned are typically determined using a fixed percentage, a fixed fee, or a combination of the two.
For arrangements that include multiple deliverables, primarily for products that contain software essential to the hardware products’ functionality and services, we allocate revenue to each unit of accounting based on their relative selling prices. In such circumstances, we use a hierarchy to determine the selling prices to be used for allocating revenue: (i) vendor-specific objective evidence of fair value (VSOE), (ii) third-party evidence of selling price, and (iii) best estimate of the selling price (ESP). VSOE generally exists only when we sell the deliverable separately and is the price actually charged by us for that deliverable. ESPs reflect our best estimates of what the selling prices of elements would be if they were sold regularly on a stand-alone basis.
We record deferred revenues upon invoicing or when cash payments are received in advance of our performance in the underlying agreement on the accompanying Consolidated Balance Sheets.
Cost of Revenues
Cost of revenues consists primarily of traffic acquisition costs. Traffic acquisition costs consist of amounts ultimately paid to our Google Network Members under AdSense arrangements and to certain other partners (our distribution partners) who distribute our toolbar and other products (collectively referred to as access points) or otherwise direct search queries to our website (collectively referred to as distribution arrangements). These amounts are primarily based on the revenue share and fixed fee arrangements with our Google Network Members and distribution partners.
Certain distribution arrangements require us to pay our partners based on a fee per access point delivered and not exclusively - or at all - based on revenue share. These fees are non-refundable. Further, these arrangements are terminable at will, although under the terms of certain contracts we or our distribution partners may be subject to penalties in the event of early termination. We recognize fees under these arrangements over the estimated useful lives of the access points (approximately two years) to the extent we can reasonably estimate those lives and they are longer than one year, or based on any contractual revenue share, if greater. Otherwise, the fees are charged to expense as incurred. The estimated useful life of the access points is based on the historical average period of time they generate traffic and revenues.
Cost of revenues also includes the expenses associated with the operation of our data centers, including depreciation, labor, energy, and bandwidth costs, hardware inventory costs, credit card and other transaction fees related to processing customer transactions, amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets, as well as content acquisition costs. We have entered into arrangements with certain content providers under which we distribute or license their video and other content. In a number of these arrangements, we display ads on the pages of our websites from which the content is viewed and share most of the fees these ads generate with the content providers. We also license content on the pages of our websites from which the content is sold and share most of the fees these sales generate with content providers. To the extent we are obligated to make guaranteed minimum revenue share payments to our content providers, we recognize as content acquisition costs the contractual revenue share amount or the amount determined on a straight-line basis, whichever is greater, over the terms of the agreements.
In addition, cost of revenues includes manufacturing and inventory-related costs primarily from our Motorola Mobile segment.
Stock-based Compensation
We have elected to use the Black-Scholes-Merton (BSM) option pricing model to determine the fair value of stock options on the dates of grant. Restricted stock units (RSUs) are measured based on the fair market values of the underlying stock on the dates of grant. Shares are issued on the vesting dates net of the minimum statutory tax withholding requirements to be paid by us on behalf of our employees. As a result, the actual number of shares issued will be fewer than the actual number of RSUs outstanding. Furthermore, we record the liability for withholding amounts to be paid by us as a reduction to additional paid-in capital when paid. Also, we recognize stock-based compensation using the straight-line method.
We include as part of cash flows from financing activities the benefits of tax deductions in excess of the tax-effected compensation of the related stock-based awards for options exercised and RSUs vested during the period. During the years ended December 31, 2011December 31, 2012, and December 31, 2013, the amount of cash received from the exercise of stock options was $621 million, $736 million, and $1,174 million, and the total direct tax benefit realized, including the excess tax benefit, from stock-based award activities was $451 million, $747 million, and $1,195 million. We have elected to account for the indirect effects of stock-based awards - primarily the research and development tax credit - through the Consolidated Statements of Income.
For the years ended December 31, 2011December 31, 2012, and December 31, 2013, we recognized stock-based compensation expense and related tax benefits of $1,974 million and $413 million, $2,649 million and $591 million, and $3,268 million and $720 million. Additionally, net income (loss) from discontinued operations for the year ended December 31, 2012 and December 31, 2013 includes stock-based compensation expense and related tax benefits of $43 million and $11 million, and $75 million and $24 million, respectively.
Certain Risks and Concentrations
Our revenues are primarily derived from online advertising, the market for which is highly competitive and rapidly changing. In addition, our revenues are generated from a multitude of vertical market segments in countries around the world. Significant changes in this industry or changes in customer buying or advertiser spending behavior could adversely affect our operating results. In addition, for our Motorola Mobile segment, the vast majority of our Motorola products (other than some prototypes) are manufactured outside the U.S., primarily in China and Brazil.
Financial instruments that potentially subject us to concentrations of credit risk consist principally of cash equivalents, marketable securities, foreign exchange contracts, and accounts receivable. Cash equivalents and marketable securities consist primarily of time deposits, money market and other funds, including cash collateral received related to our securities lending program, highly liquid debt instruments of the U.S. government and its agencies, debt instruments issued by foreign governments and municipalities in the U.S., corporate securities, mortgage-backed securities, and asset-backed securities. Foreign exchange contracts are transacted with various financial institutions with high credit standing. Accounts receivable are typically unsecured and are derived from revenues earned from customers located around the world. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, we generated approximately 46%, 47%, and 45% of our revenues from customers based in the U.S., with the majority of customers outside of the U.S. located in Europe and Japan. Many of our Google Network Members are in the internet industry. We perform ongoing evaluations to determine customer credit and we limit the amount of credit we extend, but generally we do not require collateral from our customers. We maintain reserves for estimated credit losses and these losses have generally been within our expectations.
No individual customer or groups of affiliated customers represented more than 10% of our revenues in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
Our financial assets and financial liabilities that include cash equivalents, marketable securities, and foreign currency and interest rate derivative contracts are measured and recorded at fair value on a recurring basis. We measure certain other assets including our non-marketable equity securities at fair value on a nonrecurring basis when they are deemed to be other-than-temporarily impaired. Our other current financial assets and our other current financial liabilities have fair values that approximate their carrying value and are therefore not recorded at fair value.
Cash, Cash Equivalents, and Marketable Securities
We invest our excess cash primarily in time deposits, money market and other funds, including cash collateral received related to our securities lending program, highly liquid debt instruments of the U.S. government and its agencies, debt instruments issued by foreign governments and municipalities in the U.S., corporate securities, mortgage-backed securities, and asset-backed securities.
We classify all highly liquid investments with stated maturities of three months or less from date of purchase as cash equivalents and all highly liquid investments with stated maturities of greater than three months as marketable securities.
We determine the appropriate classification of our investments in marketable securities at the time of purchase and reevaluate such designation at each balance sheet date. We have classified and accounted for our marketable securities as available-for-sale. We may or may not hold securities with stated maturities greater than 12 months until maturity. After consideration of our risk versus reward objectives, as well as our liquidity requirements, we may sell these securities prior to their stated maturities. As we view these securities as available to support current operations, we classify securities with maturities beyond 12 months as current assets under the caption marketable securities in the accompanying Consolidated Balance Sheets. We carry these securities at fair value, and report the unrealized gains and losses, net of taxes, as a component of stockholders’ equity, except for unrealized losses determined to be other-than-temporary, which we record as interest and other income, net. We determine any realized gains or losses on the sale of marketable securities on a specific identification method, and we record such gains and losses as a component of interest and other income, net.
Non-Marketable Equity Securities
We have accounted for non-marketable equity securities either under the equity or cost method. Investments through which we exercise significant influence but do not have control over the investee are accounted for under the equity method. Investments through which we are not able to exercise significant influence over the investee are accounted for under the cost method.
Impairment of Marketable and Non-Marketable Securities
We periodically review our marketable and non-marketable securities for impairment. If we conclude that any of these investments are impaired, we determine whether such impairment is other-than-temporary. Factors we consider to make such determination include the duration and severity of the impairment, the reason for the decline in value and the potential recovery period and our intent to sell. For marketable debt securities, we also consider whether (1) it is more likely than not that we will be required to sell the security before recovery of its amortized cost basis, and (2) the amortized cost basis cannot be recovered as a result of credit losses. If any impairment is considered other-than-temporary, we will write down the asset to its fair value and record the corresponding charge as interest and other income, net.
Accounts Receivable
We record accounts receivable at the invoiced amount and we do not charge interest. We maintain an allowance for doubtful accounts to reserve for potentially uncollectible receivables. We review the accounts receivable by amounts due by customers which are past due to identify specific customers with known disputes or collectability issues. In determining the amount of the reserve, we make judgments about the creditworthiness of significant customers based on ongoing credit evaluations. We also maintain a sales allowance to reserve for potential credits issued to customers. We determine the amount of the reserve based on historical credits issued.
Inventories are stated at the lower of cost or market, computed using the first-in, first-out method.
Property and Equipment
We account for property and equipment at cost less accumulated depreciation and amortization. We compute depreciation using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets, generally two to five years. We depreciate buildings over periods up to 25 years. We amortize leasehold improvements over the shorter of the remaining lease term or the estimated useful lives of the assets. Construction in progress is related to the construction or development of property (including land) and equipment that have not yet been placed in service for our intended use. Depreciation for equipment commences once it is placed in service and depreciation for buildings and leasehold improvements commences once they are ready for our intended use. Land is not depreciated.
Software Development Costs
We expense software development costs, including costs to develop software products or the software component of products to be marketed to external users, before technological feasibility of such products is reached. We have determined that technological feasibility was reached shortly before the release of those products and as a result, the development costs incurred after the establishment of technological feasibility and before the release of those products were not material, and accordingly, were expensed as incurred. Software development costs also include costs to develop software programs to be used solely to meet our internal needs and cloud based applications used to deliver our services.
Business Combinations
We include the results of operations of the businesses that we acquire as of the respective dates of acquisition. We allocate the fair value of the purchase price of our acquisitions to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their estimated fair values. The excess of the fair value of purchase price over the fair values of these identifiable assets and liabilities is recorded as goodwill.
Long-Lived Assets Including Goodwill and Other Acquired Intangible Assets
We review property and equipment, long-term prepayments and intangible assets, excluding goodwill, for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. We measure recoverability of these assets by comparing the carrying amounts to the future undiscounted cash flows the assets are expected to generate. If property and equipment and intangible assets are considered to be impaired, the impairment to be recognized equals the amount by which the carrying value of the asset exceeds its fair market value. We have made no material adjustments to our long-lived assets in any of the years presented. In addition, we test our goodwill for impairment at least annually or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that this asset may be impaired. No goodwill impairment has been identified in any of the years presented.
Intangible assets with definite lives are amortized over their estimated useful lives. We amortize our acquired intangible assets on a straight-line basis with definite lives over periods ranging from one to twelve years.
Income Taxes
We recognize income taxes under the liability method. We recognize deferred income taxes for differences between the financial reporting and tax bases of assets and liabilities at enacted statutory tax rates in effect for the years in which differences are expected to reverse. We recognize the effect on deferred taxes of a change in tax rates in income in the period that includes the enactment date.
Foreign Currency
Generally, the functional currency of our international subsidiaries is the local currency. We translate the financial statements of these subsidiaries to U.S. dollars using month-end rates of exchange for assets and liabilities, and average rates of exchange for revenues, costs, and expenses. We record translation gains and losses in accumulated other comprehensive income as a component of stockholders’ equity. We recorded $107 million of net translation losses in 2011, $75 million of net translation gains in 2012, and $89 million of net translation gains in 2013. We record net gains and losses resulting from foreign exchange transactions as a component of foreign currency exchange losses in interest and other income, net. These gains and losses are net of those recognized on foreign exchange contracts. We recorded $38 million of net losses in 2011, $78 million of net losses in 2012, and $120 million of net losses in 2013.
Advertising and Promotional Expenses
We expense advertising and promotional costs in the period in which they are incurred. For the years ended December 31, 20112012 and 2013, advertising and promotional expenses totaled approximately $1,544 million, $2,332 million, and $2,848 million.