Alphabet's 'other bets' are still exactly what they sound like

As a behemoth, Alphabet has tried in recent years to expand beyond Google’s core search and advertising businesses and tackle certain “big picture” problems.

Many of the resulting projects — like Waymo, which works on self-driving cars, or Calico, which wants to extend the human lifespan — have been bundled into a nebulous category Alphabet calls “Other Bets.” The idea is to take a few big risks and hope something turns into a new big business.

But as this chart from Statista shows, these bets are still far from having any material benefit to Alphabet’s bottom line. While Alphabet’s core businesses continue to carry virtually all of the the company’s weight — and while the Google businesses that are more natural extensions of search, like YouTube and the firm’s cloud business, seem to be growing — the other bets continue to lose much more than they gain.

That’s to be expected, and those returns are steadily improving, and there’s still a chance that one of the other bets does pay off. (Waymo in particular has generated its share of optimism.) Still, the company has also started to thin down some of its less promising moonshots. Even with Alphabet’s muscle, it’s hard to see swing for a home run hitting the ball out of the park.

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