Google has always wanted to be the alpha and omega of the Internet, but no one expected it would try to own the very alphabet. In a sudden, eyeball-arresting announcement, the world’s most watched technology company has announced big-bang restructuring, the most massive element of which is the hatching of a holding company named Alphabet, located at http://abc.xyz. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are CEO and president.
Google Inc is now a subsidiary company led by Sundar Pichai, and the high-risk “moonshot” projects that Google adores have been hived off. This is stuff that Wall Street understands, and the firewalling of risk kicked Google stock up by 6 per cent. But the punters must be slightly confused, too, since the stated purpose of the restructuring is to allow engineers to wrest charge of projects from administrators and business heads, live dangerously like in a startup and work on more moonshots.
Indeed, some moonshots, like the life-extension project Calico, could turn into perpetual-motion revenue generators. And Android was once a gleam in some bloodshot, moonshot eye — an audacious plan to take on the entrenched giants of mobile telephony armed only with a Linux kernel.
Post restructuring, Google could again be a lean, nimble technology-led company, unafraid to innovate. However, there could be a simpler logic for the restructuring: The only way Brin and Page could get an Indian to head the company — a fashionable strategy these days — without vanishing was to kick themselves upstairs into the cockpit of a holding company.
Delightfully perverse idea, but the question remains: Will Google achievers now be rewarded with bowls of alphabet soup? The restructuring is intended to rekindle Google’s taste for the unconventional, and this will not be completely served without a small change in the menu.