Google Restructure: Alphabet Calls The Shots
Google has been around since 1997. But how much do you know about this global giant? What are its major business interests? And how has Google’s business fared in comparison with Apple, for example?
Let’s take a look at how this worldwide multinational organisation is structured. For practical purposes this means winding the clock back to August 2015 – the time when the Google conglomerate split into a number of separate subsidiary companies, but even back then Spin Palace casino was still providing great games and was very easy to access online. Though this change has had very little impact upon consumers, a newly created holding company (called Alphabet) is listed on the NASDAQ as GOOG – just as Google once was. The fairly autonomous components of this new composite organisation are now shown below:
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founders, now run Alphabet. Brin is the president of this holding company and Page is the CEO. They have also appointed new CEOs in charge of the separate companies Alphabet now owns.
By far Alphabet’s largest subsidiary, Google is where you’ll find the search engine and the most popular Google apps e.g. Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps and AdSense. This company also owns Android and Android-related services such as Google Play. Sundar Pichai is the Google CEO and a separate CEO, Susan Wojcicki, has been appointed for YouTube.
Since the 2015 restructuring, many of the reformulated subsidiary companies have now dropped the word ‘Google’ from their name.
The high-speed Internet service provider for the Alphabet stable, Google Fiber is only available in a few US cities such as Provo Utah, Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin Texas. Fiber customers are supplied with Internet and TV cable packages, but though the rates are market competitive this venture is not regarded as especially profitable. Some Fiber expansion plans have been shelved while the business explores cheaper ways to make such content available in urban areas. The company did acquire Webpass, a business which focuses on delivering content to apartments, but like the rest of Fiber, their future plans remain on hold.
A major presence in the world of smart-home devices and the Internet of Things, Nest is a start-up business acquired by Google back in 2014. The list of hardware innovations created by Nest includes home security cameras monitored via smartphone, plus a smart smoke and carbon dioxide detector as well as numerous third-party devices associated with the Nest brand and technologies.
A shortened form of the California Life Company, Calico is a youth-oriented biomedical research company. Calico was launched as part of Google in 2013. Its primary focus is the twin aims of combating age-related diseases and finding ways to slow the ageing process. Having hired some of the smartest thinkers in medicine, pharmacology, genetics and biology, Calico engages in research and development rather than the manufacture of consumer products.
Verily Life Sciences
Previously styled as Google Life Sciences, Verily is also another medical research unit. The business is presently working on a non-commercial health-monitoring watch designed for medical research purposes. Happy to work collaboratively, Verily is in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline. The joint company, known as Galvani Bioelectronics, is developing tiny chips capable of altering nerves and thus reversing certain diseases.
GV is the new title of Google Ventures, the venture capital arm of the organisation. Investment in start-up businesses not only supports companies with promising initiatives, but it also creates a ready supply of potential new acquisitions. This is how Google came to own Nest, for example, and a list of some of the organisation’s more prominent investments shows the diversity of their interests. There are consumer-facing businesses like Medium and Uber, technology enterprises such as Slack and DocuSign, robotics foundations like Jaunt and Carbon, as well as health/ life science interests such as Flatiron Health and 23andMe.
X Development, LLC
Once designated Google X, this is the company responsible for ‘sci-fi’ initiatives such as self-drive vehicles, drones for the delivery of goods, wind energy generated by kites and Internet delivered to remote areas via weather balloons.
Formerly Google Capital, Capital G is another investment company, but one which focuses on growing existing businesses rather than start-ups. There is every chance you will have heard of the likes of Snapchat and Airbnb.
Surplus to requirements?
Despite its strong reputation in the field of robotics, there is a feeling that Alphabet does not see Boston Dynamics as a particularly good fit within its newly restructured portfolio. Thus it may well be a prime candidate for being sold off.
Alphabet moves beyond Apple
A recent report in the Financial Times confirms that Alphabet is now the company with the world’s largest cash reserves – a position formerly occupied by Apple. As of the end of 2017, Apple’s net cash holdings diminished from $163 billion to $102 billion. Meanwhile, at the same point Alphabet’s own cash reserves rose to $117 billion, a net increase of around $20 billion.
While they are currently swimming in cash, Alphabet are still spending big. But there may be some clouds on the horizon. In the US, Washington officials from the Department of Justice as well as the Federal Communications Commission have been investigating this tech giant. And in Europe, the EU has recently fined Alphabet €8.2bn because of its anti-trust behaviour.
Elsewhere, many of Alphabet’s major shareholders have not been impressed with its decision to reinvest and seek to open up further new markets in preference to paying shareholder dividends. This strategy has not met with universal approval from the company’s major shareholders. The criticism is that Alphabet’s policy is wasteful in that many enterprises they champion simply fail to deliver any return on their investment.