These are all things that I’ve heard from insiders today in response to Google’s move to put itself, and its other units, under a new umbrella company called Alphabet.
The news came in like a tomahawk, causing most of us to check the calendar and make sure that it wasn’t April 1st. It wasn’t and now we know the specifics on what went down today.
Google, at its core, is an Internet company. The company, founded 16 years ago, has helped shape the Internet. It has over 57,000 employees and if you were to ask each and every one of them what they think about when they think Google, the “Internet” would be a part of most responses.
In fact, its mission statement rings truer than any other I’ve read:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Until it wasn’t.
The company that is now known as Alphabet has been stepping out from behind the Internet for the past few years. Still known primarily as a “search company,” Larry Page and Sergey Brin have built a group of some of the best and brightest brains on the entire planet. Being relegated to being just a “search company” isn’t good enough. It’s time to expand.
In a way that makes absolute sense to everyone.
Its new mission statement should read something like:
Alphabet’s mission is to make the world around you universally accessible and useful.
Information is a part of it, sure. Pichai’s Googley part.
Using its tried and true methods of attacking hard problems, everything that falls under Alphabet will be disruptive and exciting. The difference between it and Google is that you’ll never hear the question “Why is Alphabet working on a car?” or “Why is Alphabet working on glasses?” or “Why is Alphabet working on _____?”
The way that Google shaped the Internet is how Alphabet will shape everything it touches. Online, offline and everywhere in between. However, being a public company is a major pain in the ass and you constantly have to worry about what Wall Street will think. Larry and Sergey have never been fans of Wall Street.
So how does this affect the different units of Google?
Finding something on the Internet is widely referred to as “googling.” There’s a reason for that, because Google does it best. Its search share foothold isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and in many ways search is still the portal to the Internet.
However, search is not the portal to the mobile Internet.
That’s what Pichai is tasked to tackle.
A lot of the products under Google’s previous core business remains under Sundar Pichai under the new Google: search, ads and Android. Pichai can focus on nailing the mobile experience that is the future of Google. He doesn’t have to worry about anything else getting in his way anymore.
Companies who see hockeystick growth have to think about an Alphabet exit in a completely different way than they’d look at a Google exit. Bigger companies, like Nest, will report up to Page without worrying about getting lost in the Google ecosystem. Faster onboarding, for sure.
Before, companies who thought about getting acquired by Google had to fit in with one of the gaps in Google’s core business. If they didn’t fit in one of those gaps, they were overlooked for the most part.
If Alphabet had existed before today, might Oculus Rift be a part of a different company? Just a thought — but an illustrative one.
Oh, those moonshots. Those are the massive problems that Google tries to solve, while scaring the ever-loving-bejeesus out of all of its investors. Yes, it is very cool that Google is working on a self-driving car.
Do investors feel like the company isn’t focusing on its next important ad push when they talk about them? You betcha.
Have no fear, the Alphabet is here. Let Page field all of those annoying questions about why the company sent five engineers to observe the groundhog on Groundhog’s Day.
Alphabet is going to be weird(er).
Investing in the real world
Google had already gotten pretty far in its investing thesis, getting involved in all kinds of businesses. Today’s news makes it even more attractive as an investor. There are no solid ties to Google group, or the Internet at all.
It’ll be interesting to see if Bill Maris and team starts getting wild with its investments after this potential “explore the world” thesis of Alphabet. Terraforming Mars? Bartending? Who knows.
The tactic of creating an umbrella company in and of itself? Sure, think Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett. But it gives the company breathing room — a different leg to stand on and an earth’s-eye view on how to make the world easier to navigate.
Alphabet signifies a company getting back to basics, and there’s nothing more basic than good ol’ A to Z. Using technology to enhance and not just to learn sounds pretty damn exciting.
OK Alphabet, let’s see what you got. Mapping the globe sounded crazy at one point too, I’m sure.