In a move that shook the tech world, Google announced Monday that it will undergo restructuring so that it becomes a subsidiary of a new parent company called Alphabet, Inc.
Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be head of Alphabet, while longtime executive Sundar Pichai will be CEO of Google.
Page explained the name Alphabet was “inspired by the collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations” and refers to “alpha bet” (alpha is an investment term that means returns above benchmark).
Many have compared Alphabet’s conglomerate structure to that of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which owns a diverse portfolio of companies. Shareholders have praised the move as providing much needed clarity and focus for a company that, in addition to its core search business, has expanded to include self-driving cars, drones and anti-aging research.
So, in a nutshell, how does Google’s change affect you and me?
If you own Google stocks
It’s likely that Google’s ticker symbols will eventually change. For now GOOG and GOOGL are staying put. But at some point, as Alphabet’s brand grows, you just never know.
Is it Google or Alphabet?
A nagging problem may be writing about Google, er, Alphabet in the future. Did Google acquire YouTube in 2006 or did Alphabet? Will Google Ventures and Google Capital have to rename themselves?
New URL to remember
The website for Alphabet will be the slick http://abc.xyz (hat tip to Hooli) — but guess who actually wins the day with an amazing troll? Microsoft, which owns the URL http://abc.wtf. Nicely done, Microsoft. Nicely done.
Google’s move is meant to give new life to so many of its existing properties. Google practically already has the entire alphabet covered with its various acquisitions, side projects, moonshots and spin-outs. Formally, Alphabet’s structure has yet to be completed, but recent SEC filings reveal the proposed structure. In the coming months and years, we’ll see how these new companies evolve under Alphabet, including the following:
Android is a mobile operating system Google acquired in 2005.
Boston Dynamics is an engineering and robotics design company.
Calico focuses on commercializing anti-aging and life-extension research.
Google Capital is a private equity and investment firm.
DeepMind focuses on commercializing artificial intelligence research.
DoubleClick by Google develops ad serving technology and services.
Google Fiber is terrestrial Internet service and Fi is wireless Internet service.
Google, where you do your search.
Google Health is a personal health information service that was shuttered in 2011, but it may come back in some form.
Invite Media is a bidding exchange for display advertising.
Jump is a platform for virtual reality filmmaking.
Project Loon aims to provide low-cost Internet around the world with floating devices that broadcast Wi-Fi.
Makani develops clean energy technology.
Nest makes home automation devices.
Niantec makes mobile video games.
Alphabet’s patent portfolio alone will be worth billions. The company recently launched an effort to acquire more. This should not be confused with Google Patents, which is a patent search portal.
The self-driving car that Google has been working on for years is likely to spin out into something else, either as a car company, or as a service available to other companies, or both.
Google Ventures has backed companies like Nest, Periscope and Pocket.
Android Wear makes fashionable wearable tech, most notably accessories for Android watches.
Project Wing is a proposed drone delivery program.
Google X was once the home of all of Google’s “moonshot” ideas and wild side projects. I suppose now it can be best thought of as an incubator.
YouTube has always run within Google as its own business. Now perhaps it will have the opportunity to actually stand on its own.
Zagat was a travel guide company Google acquired for $125 million in 2011. The company was essentially dissolved post-acquisition, but under the restructure it might get the chance to rise again.
Not every letter is covered, but don’t expect that to remain the case for long. After all, we’re talking about the Alphabet.