Re: Bottom line is what counts
As far as the investors go, they don't care where the cash comes from, they only care that it continues to flow in. The best way for management to maintain profitability is to obscure its source from those who can take it away.
Hmm, well at least some of Google's investors sued them over their corporate behaviour. Google's (Alphabet's?) corporate constitution doesn't grant any voting rights to shareholders, at least not for the type of share that you can actually buy. The company still has a fiduciary duty of care to these shareholders, but doesn't go any way towards explaining to them how it is seeing to that duty. Instead all they get is news reports of fines in Europe, grandiose projects, and headline profit reports. Whether or not that profit turns into dividend is another matter, I don't know that.
Despite the profit, there is reason for shareholders to be asking serious questions of Google's strategy. They completely messed up their China strategy, which will slowly mean missing out on India, Africa and large chunks of South East and East Asia too. These are big markets to miss out on. They're one of several companies heavily exposed to the risk of tax, content and competition fines and regulations in the EU; their business model might just become unsustainable there in the coming years. That's another big market to risk losing. Yet the company, which is notoriously opaque, won't let shareholders evaluate that failing and exposure for themselves.
One way or other I don't see the SEC going quite on the matter as being a good sign. Ask anyone in Enron what it's like when the SEC gets angry... It could be a very bad sign for Google / Alphabet.
Options available to the SEC is to start off legislative changes to force all companies to change their corporate constitutions, and oblige them to be more transparent. If the SEC thinks that the national economy is somehow threatened by too many companies behaving in a Google like way, they'll get worried about it.
There is a need for some delicacy; their ultimate boss might not like the idea of new legislation that changes laws on corporate constitutions and transparency...