Google may have started life as a simple search engine, but it certainly hasn’t stayed that way. The brand dominated its industry and then built related ones (e.g., Android phones, the first true competitor to the iPhone). To lead the way in innovation across the board, it gave itself a parent company, Google’s Alphabet umbrella. Today’s post is a snapshot of that umbrella and the companies under Alphabet Inc., as well as what you can expect to see from them this year.
Founded by Google’s own founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in October 2015 Google parent, Alphabet Inc., was established to continue “starting new things” that were “pretty far afield of … main internet products.” This allowed Google as a company to refocus its efforts on what it was originally created to do (and arguably, what it’s best at) without giving up broader goals in social, medical, and technological innovation. The conglomerate includes a wide variety of subsidiaries that were not only a part of Google, but were developed or acquired by Alphabet. In early 2016, it managed to briefly surpass Apple as the most valuable publicly traded company in the world.
Under the Umbrella
These are some of the major businesses that you can find under Google’s Alphabet umbrella:
- Google: The Google brand itself has slimmed under Alphabet, but it still has major areas of leadership, including the Android operating system, smartphone apps, maps, YouTube, technical infrastructure, search, and advertising.
- Google Fiber: Launched as a part of Alphabet’s Access & Energy division, its goal is to provide fiber-to-premises broadband internet offering speeds of 1000MBPS and a cable TV alternative. While it’s only available in a few cities, it has plans to expand into more than a dozen.
- Google X: Formerly the division in charge of “moonshot” ideas, this company focuses on crazy projects to solve real world problems. Some of its solutions have actually spun out into companies of their own under Google parent, Alphabet.
- Verily: A Google X alum, it focuses on taking life sciences exploration to the next level. It focuses on healthcare, access, and disease prevention, and even partners with major brands, including GlaxoSmithKline.
- Waymo: Another Google X alum, it began as an attempt to develop a Google Car, i.e., a fully autonomous vehicle. When it launched independently, it refocused its goal to developing self-driving technology. This can deepen ties with auto manufacturers and position it as a solutions provider.
- Calico Labs: A sister concept to Verily, it’s an independent research biotech firm established with the goal to “cure death.” More specifically, it aims to combat aging and cure associated diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
- Sidewalk Labs: Founded in 2015, this company was built to address urban improvement through technological solutions. It focuses on infrastructure as well as cost of living, transportation, and energy consumption.
- Google Venture: Also known as GV, this is Alphabet’s venture capital investment arm. Like others of its kind, it provides seed money, growth stage funding, and venture capital to new companies in the fields of healthcare, robotics, AI, cybersecurity, and much more.
- Google Capital: Also known as Capital G, this sister company to GV focuses on late-stage growth venture capital funds for larger technology companies. This branch invests for profit, rather than strategic positioning for Alphabet
- Jigsaw: Formerly Alphabet’s think tank division, Google Ideas, it’s one part think tank and one part incubator. Its goal is to take on major socio-political challenges through the lens of technology, and tackles topics like online censorship and mitigating digital attacks (e.g., hacking) and harassment.
- Nest: Although this isn’t one of Google’s home-grown brands, it was acquired in 2014. It’s a leader in home-based IoT solutions, such as controlling the home thermostat, lights, locks, and interior or exterior security cameras.
- DeepMind Technologies: Another company that’s not a Google native, it’s an AI research and development firm seeking to make positive impacts that solve real-world challenges, including climate change and “radically improved” healthcare. Notably, its AlphaGo project beat a human professional Go player for the first time in 2016.
What to Expect in 2017
As mentioned, Waymo has repositioned itself as a self-driving technology company that’s “in the business of making better drivers.” To that end, it’s partnered with Fiat-Chrysler to develop a ride-sharing service relying on semi-self-driving Pacifica vans, intended to start service in 2017. Fiat-Chrysler revealed a related concept car at CES 2017, the Chrysler Portal.
Google X – Project Loon
In an effort to solve global internet accessibility problems, Google X developed Project Loon. It uses high-atmosphere balloons that ascend much like weather balloons but are superpressured, which allows them to last for significantly longer, and it beams internet to areas in need. Previously, the balloons were meant to operate singly around the globe, which presented a variety of problems. In 2017, Google X is applying an algorithm that allows these balloons to flock. This is done by using machine learning to take advantage of various weather data and wind patterns to cluster together and provide a significant internet signal to an area in need.
Google finally entered into the health-tracker game when Verily unveiled a new tracker smartwatch in April 2017. Unlike most trackers, however, this isn’t headed straight to consumers. Instead, Verily is partnering with Duke University and Stanford Medicine to launch a four-year research study of about 10,000 participants referred to as Project Baseline. The goal is to drastically improve our understanding of what a healthy “baseline” looks like and more clearly understand indicators of wellness. This, in turn, should lead to advancements in technology for disease prevention rather than relying on a diagnosis/treatment cycle.
As you can see, Google’s Alphabet umbrella wields serious market potential as it continues to drive the technology and innovation that define the modern world. Waymo, Project Loon, and Verily represent only a small portion of what we can expect to see from Alphabet in the future as the brand provides new platforms, new audiences, and new ways of understanding and interacting with the world. Google wanted a new way to approach its business model, and it should be an inspiration for considering new perspectives on how technology can drive the trajectory of your business and marketing.