It’s a red letter day for Google as the firm announces it will be restructuring under the new brand name Alphabet
turtix / Shutterstock.com
It’s always a little bit odd when a beloved institution changes its name. Cat Stevens’ transition to Yusuf Islam certainly took something of an adjustment, whilst Netflix’s attempt to spin out of its DVD-by-mail service as Qwikster in the States was met with no shortage of derision. And the less said about the heresy of Choco Krispies the better. Which is why there’s a fair chance a Twitter storm may be brewing over news that Google is to rebrand as Alphabet.
But, of course, this isn’t the whole story. In actual fact, the tech giant is simply reconsolidating under a new parent company, as announced by Larry Page, Google’s former CEO, in a blog post on August 10. And there seems to be a fairly convincing case for the restructure. Some analysts have posited that breaking up its brands in this way will provide some much-needed distance between them, diminishing the regulatory burden involved and making it easier to protect the firm and its investors should one company fail.
Under the restructuring, many of Google’s brands will be spun off as separate companies. Amongst those subsidiaries set to become individual companies are Calico, Google’s health research division; Google X, its secret research lab; Fibre, its high-speed fibre-optic network; Nest, the home automation start-up; the investment funds Ventures and Capital; and forward-looking projects like smart-cities venture Sidewalk Labs and the drone-delivery experiment Project Wing. Fortunately, for the more change-resistant among you, there's no need to adopt a whole new nomenclature for searching the web: it seems core Google products, such as search, advertising, maps, apps, YouTube and Android will remain under the Google banner.
In terms of Google’s key talent, Sundar Pichai, the firm’s former product chief, will take up the reins as the new Google CEO, whilst Page and Sergei Brin are set to become CEO and president of Alphabet respectively.
But what’s the deal with that name? “We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity's most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search,” explained Page. He also remarked that it plays on the definition of alpha as an investment return above benchmark, suggesting that the new corporation is a good ‘alpha-bet’. Fortunately, a sense of humour isn’t a prerequisite of chairing an innovative tech conglomerate.