Friday, August 14, 2015

Google and Alphabet

Steven Levy:

Yes, we get it. Google is not a conventional company. Larry Page said so in the first letter to shareholders when the company went public in 2004. And in case we missed this, Page repeated the quote today when announcing that Google, as it existed before August 10, 2015, would thereafter be known as Alphabet. Most of the stuff we interact with from Google — search, ads, YouTube, Gmail, and Android — will be part of just one of several companies under the Alphabet umbrella. At least that company will retain the familiar name.

The other companies — including Google X, Fiber, Calico, Nest, Sidewalk, and Google Ventures — will be fully owned, but separate, each with its own CEO and finances.

Ben Thompson:

The same logic applies to all of Alphabet’s non-Google companies: none are likely to be monetized through advertising, or benefit from Google’s shared infrastructure and sales and marketing organization, so why should they be a part of the same company? It makes a great deal of sense to have different companies with different business models — that result in different incentives — as separate entities with clear accountabilities.


And so we’ve come full circle: Page may be abandoning day-to-day responsibilities at Google, but he has no intention of abandoning Google’s profits. Alphabet’s plan to report Google’s results on a standalone basis will likely reveal that the search-and-advertising company investors have bought stock in is, absent the financial blackhole of Google’s moonshots, doing even better than most suspected. Unfortunately for said investors the additional clarity will only serve to illuminate just how much money is not being returned to shareholders and is instead being spent by Page and Brin on what they think matters. Will investors trust Page to spend it wisely?

Ken Auletta:

The one theory that I think is closest to the truth is that Larry Page suffered from Sergey Brin envy. Page had turned into what he had always admonished Googlers not to become: a bureaucrat.


Most C.E.O.s who step down are pushed out, and then they prattle about wanting to spend more time with their families. Larry Page, by contrast, really does want to spend more time with Sergey Brin.

Liz Stinson and Margaret Rhodes (via John Gruber):

Given the confusion surrounding the announcement, Alphabet’s visual identity plays a vital role helping people understand the differences between the two companies. Whereas Google’s goofy logo reflected a not-quite-mature web, Alphabet’s rational, bright red wordmark signals a growing-up phase. If Google’s logo reflects a campus with multi-story slides and themed conference rooms, Alphabet’s says, “I have a lobby full of Knoll furniture.”

We asked designers and branding experts to make sense of the new wordmark. Their reactions spanned the congratulatory to the skeptical.

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