Google, the Internet giant, is turning into Alphabet. On Monday, August 10, co-founder and CEO Larry Page announced that Google will be split from its many other ventures, like the awesome self-driving car. All of these ventures, as well as Google itself, will become subsidiaries of a new company called Alphabet.
Page will become the CEO of Alphabet, his Google co-founder Sergey Brin will be the President, and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt will become Alphabet executive chairman. Meanwhile Google, now a subsidiary of Alphabet, gets a new CEO: Sundar Pichai, current head of Android, Chrome and Apps.
Why Is Google Becoming Alphabet?
The short answer: it’s just business. Under the “Google” brand, Page and Brin were looking to do several things to change the world, like self-driving cars, the famous Google Glass project, glucose-sensing contact lenses, and even the search for immortality.
From a business perspective, it’s difficult to justify each of these and other research projects to shareholders and future investors. But by separating core Google projects from these other projects, Larry Page and Sergey Brin can continue to be innovators while Sundar Pichai, who lives and breathes Google, can continue to grow the core products.
“Sergey and I are seriously in the business of starting new things. Alphabet will also include our X lab, which incubates new efforts like Wing, our drone delivery effort,” Page said. “We are also stoked about growing our investment arms, Ventures and Capital, as part of this new structure.”
In essence, the new structure of the company frees up the “Google” brand from having to be a part of every project, while still remaining the core offering. This could enable the company to make good products which don’t have the ultimate aim of serving Google’s search interests. A recent example of one such failure is the decline of Google+, a product that didn’t even get a mention from Page in his letter.
“(Google+) died, in part, because there was too much pressure on it to serve the search business,” writes Felix Salmon at Fusion. “In future, if Alphabet buys a social network having failed to build one itself, you can be sure that it will be kept separate from Google.”
What This Means For You
For the consumer, hardly anything changes. Heck, even if you are an investor, Alphabet will continue to trade under “GOOG” on the stock market. The company will become Alphabet later this year — it hasn’t been disclosed when this transition will happen.
As far as actual products go, so far, according to Marketing Land, here is what the company’s restructuring looks like:
Page and Brin won the Internet search wars, it’ll be exciting to see what they do next. As Page recalled from their original founders’ letter: “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.”
No .Com, No Twitter
Yes, Google is ready to become Alphabet, so you would expect the company to own the name Alphabet.com, right? After all, this is the Internet’s biggest organization.
Nope! Alphabet.com is owned by BMW, so the new Alphabet organization will host at abc.xyz. The Internet’s leading company doesn’t feel the need for a .com any more!
Meanwhile, the poor guys at BMW’s Alphabet Fleet Management site faced an onslaught of visitors after the announcement. The result was predictable:
— Digital Rain (@digitalrain_us) August 10, 2015
Alphabet also does not own the Twitter handle @alphabet. That honor goes to Chris Andrikanich of Cleveland, who earned the nickname “Alphabet” in college because of his complex last name.
Well, that was an interesting way to end a Monday…
— Chris Andrikanich (@alphabet) August 10, 2015
Andrikanich said his Twitter mentions have been going nuts since the announcement, and he thinks it’s best to just switch them off for a while so that he can actually start using the social network normally again, he told Buzzfeed.
He hasn’t been contacted by Alphabet about handing over or buying the handle, but he would be open to offers. “Everyone thinks I’m going to get rich,” he said. Let’s hope Andrikanich doesn’t end up with a serious case of identity crisis on Twitter.
A Parting Shot
In the blog post announcing the new restructuring, Googlers didn’t shy away from poking fun at their own Silicon Valley culture — culture that they had a hand in creating. And they did it by referencing the new TV show Silicon Valley, one of the best television shows for geeks.
In the show, a fictional tech giant called Hooli is seen as the big bad corporation, an embodiment of everything that is wrong about the startup culture. Google loves its Easter Eggs, so Page and Brin couldn’t resist:
— Jack Clark (@jackclarkSF) August 10, 2015
Alphabet seems like a weak, uncreative name — definitely not a distinguishable brand name like “Google” is. You can probably do better, right? If you were in Larry Page’s shoes, what would you have named this new entity? Let brainstorm.