Think BlueBook in Ex Machina, think Stark Industries in Iron Man, think Tyrell Corporation from Blade Runner.
These science-fictional companies were, in their respective worlds, big enough to change to planet.
Today’s tech forerunners such as Apple and Google are just small fry compared to these somewhat dystopian behemoths, but they all sprang to mind when I saw the news that Google is now part of a larger technology giant.
I’m not saying that Alphabet will be like some Weyland-Yutani galaxy-wide conglomerate (for now, anyway), but we are witnessing right here the first tentative first steps into a science-fiction future that authors have been predicting for decades.
Alphabet CEO Larry Page admitted it himself last year at a TED talk. “Companies are doing the same incremental thing that they did 50 years ago, 20 years ago,” Page said. “That’s not really what we need.”
Alphabet is the strategic move that will make Google’s moonshots both viable and eventually profitable. By taking X Labs away from the reigns of Google’s advertising and search business, ventures like the firm’s Wing drone delivery program, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and self-driving automobiles can all turn profits indefinitely, whilst keeping respective investors and shareholders smiling.
“Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related,” said Page.
Alphabet now also opens up new opportunities for investors who want to concentrate on one area. And they’re spoilt for choice when it comes to future technologies. Here are Alphabet’s divisions broken down:
Each Alphabet subsidiary will retain its current, independent leadership, with Sergey Brin staying as boss of Google X as well as being president of Alphabet.
In an interview with the Financial Times last October, Page alluded to the Alphabet restructuring and gave us a glimpse of what we can expect from the company in the future.
“We could probably solve a lot of the issues we have as humans,” said Page. “The societal goal is our primary goal.
“We’ve always tried to say that with Google. I think we’ve not succeeded as much as we’d like.”
So now is the time for that goal to be realised, and Alphabet, whilst the name still seems strange to the tongue and a little quaint, is one of the first super-companies that could lead in the post-dotcom technology era.