Goodbye Google, We Hardly Knew Thee

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There are big companies like Ford or 3M, and then there massive companies like General Electric or ExxonMobil. Now Ford generates more revenue than General Electric, but G.E. is more diverse company that makes it seem like it might own half the planet. In technology an easy equivalent is Apple and Google; Apple’s revenue is more than double that of Google, but Apple is a consumer technology developer, Google is a firm that explores every possible avenue of technological innovation. To that end, Google is about to make the leap from big to massive.

Early this month Google decided it no longer wanted to be Google and unveiled plans to create a parent company named Alphabet. Google will still exist, but not as an all encompassing tech umbrella that absorbs and acquires other properties rebranding them Google That or Google That. See three years ago when Google acquired Motorola, the popular refrain was Motorola didn’t feel like a Google property. Was Google going to rework the cell phone manufacturer and rebrand it “Google Mobile”?

The kind of awkward scenario will no longer exist. With Alphabet as the new parent company, properties such as Google Search, YouTube, Android, etc. will be self-operating machines that over time will prove their merit all on their own. Alphabet will be the “holding” company that guides the direction of the separate arms, allowing each to thrive or dive. Under the reorganization, failed or risky ventures (think Google Plus or Google Plus) won’t impact all Alphabet entities but be the moonshot that simply missed the mark.

Truth be told, Alphabet seems like a opposite field reaction to the failure of Google Plus. Four years ago, Google went all-in on an integrated ecosystem where all of it's properties were connected through Google Plus accounts. Comments on YouTube were suddenly from Google Plus accounts. Online documents and spreadsheets created in Google Drive were suddenly being shared through Google Plus. Calendar Events and Gmail information were automatically integrated through Plus.

Google Plus was not so much a failure, as a falter. Users simply didn’t flock to the forced social network. YouTube fans revolted, Drive users were mystified by the middle man, Gmail users felt like the few shreds of privacy they had were being ripped apart. Becoming a spiderweb of technology, while seeming like a brilliant move actually but it erased the entire democratic nature of internet. No one wants to be forced into commitment, let alone an interlocking network of commitments.

Alphabet is a 180 degree turn from Google Plus. No more shotgun tech weddings, but an ecosystem that shares an aesthetic and modus operandi. If Alphabet were to acquire Motorola now, the company moves would be obvious: standalone, restructure to Google efficiencies, and make the best products possible. As clear as that is now, this lesson should have been learned 10 years ago when Google acquired YouTube. Why didn’t Google turn YouTube into Google Video? Because YouTube had such a solid standalone brand, and even though Google’s number two entity after Search, it has never been mistaken for Google’s mirror image.

Alphabet is finally implementing the lesson of YouTube. Anyone invited to the Alphabet dinner party needs not only brings their own dish but isn’t forced to eat anyone else’s. It’s a brilliant move to entice innovation and protect employee dreams. Employees at Alphabet entities don’t need to worry their ideas might be repurposed for Google concerns, their innovations are siloed to their own purpose. As far as I see it, there’s never been a better time to be a Google- er, I mean Alphabet fanboy, employee, or hater.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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