If anyone was expecting a massive corporate reshuffling and rebranding from Google, they certainly didn’t bother to alert the press about it.
The news that Google has officially restructured and is now a piece of a holdings company called Alphabet (or ABC.XYZ, or Alpha-Bet) wasn’t one that many people saw coming. But here it is, a few minutes after the closing bell. Alphabet is to act as a parent entity, with several other companies operating under the structure. The biggest among them would be Google. In addition, Alphabet is to house other businesses such as Nest, the smart thermostat maker, and Calico, a company focused on longevity, among others.
For Sergey and me this is a very exciting new chapter in the life of Google — the birth of Alphabet. We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for! I should add that we are not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products–the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.”
Perhaps this move stems from a recent increase of commentary that Google can’t seem to capitalize on opportunities outside of its core Search and Advertising business, and that high-profile acquisitions like YouTube and Nest have suffered under the weight of the parent company. Perhaps this comes from a desire to elevate the profile of what Larry Page and Sergey Brin are bringing to the market, casting their new entity as a bigger, wider shaper of the technology ecosystem.
Or perhaps this is simply the result of some bad take-out and too many drinks. Certainly some aspects of the announcement felt that way.
Google is a massive entity… in the technology space they are in that coveted space that Apple and Amazon hold, and that Microsoft desperately wants to get back into. Their influence over the new connected technology space cannot be disputed; in mobile they along with Apple are the only technologies worth seriously thinking about. The ambition of what Google was out to achieve is arguably second to none, and if anything hinted at today’s announcement it was Page’s continual frustration with how narrow-minded he felt Wall Street was when looking at his company.
So why then was this announcement handled with all of the care and precision of a startup? Alphabet.com (a site undoubtedly currently tipped over by the amount of traffic it has just inherited) is still owned by another party. If you or I started a company called “awesome.com” it would be unsurprising that we didn’t have the funding to buy the domain from the original owner. But Google is sitting on over $50B of cash… shouldn’t they have acquired the site?
Alphabet on Facebook (congrats, Automotive leasing company!), @Alphabet on Twitter (congrats, Chris Andrikanich!) is still owned by someone else. Granted, someone else about to be exceedingly wealthy, but there you go. Looking around other common marketing vehicles in the new digital world finds the same story repeated… was there any prep to this announcement? Perhaps the new Alphabet entity doesn’t care and they are ushering in a new age of marketing communication where it’s all about the substance rather than the style… a meta commentary if you will on the overindulgence of internet hype.
Whatever the reason, consider it a significant day in the world of internet giants… and time will tell if it is also a case study on how to thoroughly botch a restructuring.