The ABCs of Google's New Landscape

September 8, 2015

Google recently announced a strategic shift in their organization, effectively reorganizing all of their business units under a new corporation: Alphabet. Looking into just how many business units Google had, and how diverse their spread of companies are, I’m intrigued as to just how each business unit will take advantage of this new structure. And just how does Alphabet stack up compared to other cross-industry holding companies?

Many news sources are sizing up Alphabet as similar to Berkshire Hathaway, with its cross-industry business units and subsidiaries. From Internet to health, energy, technology, social media and travel — there is incredible potential for this new organization and corporate infrastructure to pull in new talent, flesh out endeavors and do for various industries what they’ve already done for online search.

For units like Google itself, and well-established brands generally with “Google” preceding it (e.g. Drive, Glass, Maps, Hangouts, etc.), it’s pretty safe to say those will be well maintained under the new structure. And as Andrew Bogucki discussed last week, Google itself recently updated their visual identity to mixed reviews and opinions on the new style and font choices.

As for the less visible units though... the Calico’s, the Pixate’s, the Makani’s...how will those fare in this new Alphabet landscape in regards to marketing and communications resources, talent, and funding?

Just recently, the first announced company under the Alphabet umbrella — Life Sciences — may be a peek into just how the new corporate structure will handle industry specific endeavors. Life Sciences appears to be combining Google’s Calico, with efforts to create smart contact lenses, utilize nanoparticles, and create baseline studies on the human genome. I’m curious to see if they’ll take a similar route with their energy industry efforts.

And, as there were Google-named units, will there be Alphabet-named units in the future? Time will tell, but if Life Sciences is any indication, we may be seeing more industry spanning companies soon enough.

I may be alone in this, but with the current layout, I’m now equating Google to Berkshire Hathaway in scale and to Apple in ingenuity. Berkshire Hathaway’s depth and breadth across industries is incredible. And Apple has evolved the tech industry with the iPod, iPad and iPhone. Google redefined the search engine industry, and has the ability to do so in healthcare (Calico) and energy (Makani).

As a frequent user of Google-fied brands (Mail, Drive, Maps, Hangouts), I’m all for Alphabet becoming a multi-industry brand curator influenced by some of Google’s main tenets.

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