Nearly two decades after hitting the Web, Google has certainly diversified from its original role as an Internet search engine. In addition to products like Android, Gmail, and Maps, which have enhanced its core business, the company has taken moonshots to heart, investing in driverless cars, high-speed Internet, and home gadgets—to name just a few.
While these efforts have garnered high media attention, Google’s broad portfolio has historically made it difficult for analysts to figure out how the core business is really doing, leading investors to express concerns. Over the past year, it’s become clear that the company is paying attention. During July’s earnings news call, Wall Street veteran Ruth Porat made her public debut as the company’s new CFO, fresh
off a successful stint as CFO at Morgan Stanley. The day after the call, Google shares saw an approximate USD $60 billion gain in market capitalization, marking the biggest one-day rise in market value for any company ever, and prompting the New York Times to declare that Google, which has long fostered an image as the cool kid in the room, finally had “adult supervision.”
One month later, Google again made headlines when it announced a new operating structure, which enables Google’s many businesses to prosper independently under strong, dedicated leadership. Under Alphabet Inc., the newly created holding company, Google is the biggest subsidiary, representing the brand’s core offerings—search, Web advertising, Gmail, Android, Maps, YouTube, and Chrome. Other businesses owned by Alphabet include the company’s more ambitious projects, such as Google X, Calico, Nest Labs, Google Ventures, and Google Fiber. Google cofounder Larry Page will be in charge of Alphabet, while Sundar Pichai, who was Page’s number two, will take over the “new Google.”
This clarity around Google’s businesses is expected to bolster the brand’s reputation as much as it’s expected to boost financial performance. A commitment to innovation has made Google more than the accepted verb for online search, but a name that evokes technology’s potential to achieve what once seemed impossible. Larry Page and Sergey Brin don’t just want to make cars and homes that can run themselves, they want to help humans live without disease and cheat death. That’s a lot for one brand to take on. If they can achieve even part of that dream, they’ll cement Google’s place in history and launch a whole new roster of offerings that become integral to people’s lives.