So as you’ve heard, Google’s changing its name to Alphabet. But there’s still going to be a Google, because why waste a perfectly good brand? It’s a pretty big tech news event, so I’ve done the reading so that you don’t have to. I’ll start with the basic rundown of what’s going on, then do a little analysis and finally give you some of the latest links for further reading. Here we go!
- Google is changing its name to Alphabet. It’s not changing its stock tickers though, which will continue to be GOOG and GOOGL. Anyone who owns those stocks? Still going to own them. They’re just going to be called shares of Alphabet from now on.
- Alphabet is creating a “new” company named Google. Alphabet is going to own Google. Inside Google are going to be the more explicitly Google-related things, like its search, maps, drive, advertising, analytics, Android, and YouTube.
- Everything not explicitly Google-related — all those companies it’s been
eatingbuying and spawningforming over the past few years, from Nest, to Fiber, to Calico, to Wing — is going to be taken out of Google and owned directly by Alphabet. Google’s investment wing and incubator projects, including Google Ventures, Google Capital, and Google X labs, are also going to be owned by Alphabet.
- A few people will be getting new titles at Alphabet, including:
- Larry Page: CEO
- Sergey Brin: President
- Eric Schmidt: Executive Chairman
- Ruth Porat: SVP and CFO
- David C. Drummond: SVP Corporate Development, Chief Legal Officer, and Secretary
- One person will be getting a heck of a new title at Google:
- Sundar Pichai: CEO
Pichai is the current SVP of Products at Google, and was previously SVP of Android, Chrome, and Apps.
But there are two more pretty important questions to be answered: why are they doing it, and how is everyone reacting?
As for why, Annalee Newitz, writing for Gizmodo, thinks it’s about competing with Elon Musk — specifically with Tesla and SpaceX — for a brand that represents the future. “Everybody thinks Tesla and SpaceX are the future,” she writes. “Google is the present which is already sliding into the past.” She argues that the move puts all the money-making, nuts-and-bolts — one might call them “practical” — companies out of sight and, like Elon Musk’s companies, puts all the venture-capital friendly, “out there” futuristic stuff out front.
Meanwhile, Drew Olanoff and Frederic Lardinois over at TechCrunch suspect it may be to do with the ability to take risks. “If they fail, they die,” they write, regarding the now Alphabet sub-brands, “but they do less damage to the umbrella.”
Both of these might be close to the truth if Larry Page’s letter’s “easter egg” — a hidden link to hooli.xyz — is anything to go by. As Kwame Opam over at The Verge explains, it’s a reference to the HBO series Silicon Valley, in which “Hooli.xyz” is the address of the totally-not-Google-analogue-company Hooli’s “moonshot division.” The desire to do crazier things — and the freedom to follow through on them — may be exactly what this is about.
As for how others are reacting? Well, while the Twitterverse spent its time mostly wondering about motives — with one commenter wondering if perhaps the new name will allow them to be “a wee bit evil,” in reference to Google’s previous “don’t be evil” philosophy — for the most part the reactions have been a mixture of surprise and pleasure. TechCrunch reports that Google/Alphabet stocks spiked 6% following the announcement, though they seem to have eased back at least some of that already.
What’s left? Well, if you’re interested in why their address isn’t “alphabet.com,” you can read up on how that’s already taken (and why it might be bad for them). And if you’re interested in who’ll steer the new, slightly smaller Google, you can read up on Sundar Pichai at Yahoo Finance or the old go-to Wikipedia.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day.
Richard Ford Burley is a writer, library worker, and doctoral candidate in English at Boston College, where he’s studying remix culture and the processes that generate texts. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, and feminism (and corporate restructuring) here at This Week In Tomorrow.