A year ago, Google blew itself up to become Alphabet. A lot has changed since then...

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Google I/O 2016 at Shoreline Amphitheatre on May 19, 2016 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A year ago this week, we said goodbye to “Google” as we knew it when the company announced that it was blowing up its corporate structure.

What we always thought of as Google — search, Maps, Gmail, Android, YouTube, and all that money-making stuff — became a division of a larger company called Alphabet.

Experimental projects like self-driving cars and the connected home division Nest became their own mini-companies, each with its own CEO, and were lumped into Alphabet’s financials as “Other Bets.”

Let’s check in on some of the massive changes:

The core Google business, now run by Sundar Pichai, had a really busy year.

Getty Images

The company continues to pump out its big bucks from advertising -- $19.14 billion this quarter -- but it's also significantly increased its 'other revenues,' mostly from its cloud ad enterprise business.

Google snagged Silicon Valley superstar Diane Greene to run that enterprise unit, and she's done a great job shaking things up and sealing new deals.

Although only a small fraction of the $2.2 billion in other revenues came from hardware sales this quarter, that's another area where Google had a big change. The company finally appointed its first hardware czar, Rick Osterloh, to keep all its hardware efforts in one place.

Google also started ramping up its focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning, rolled out even more new YouTube ad products as it fights Facebook for TV dollars, and launched a new VR division.

Even though all the projects commonly referred to as 'moonshots' have moved outside Google, the core team is working on innovative stuff too.

Michael Seto

Really advanced voice and image recognition, for example.

For good measure, the company also launched Area 120, a formalized version of Google's famous '20% time,' meant to carve out time for entrepreneurial-minded employees to create ambitious projects inside the company. Accepted Googlers will
get several months and access to company resources to work on their projects.

The incubator will be spearheaded by Bradley Horowitz, who hired 4chan founder, Chris Poole, to help him out.

Oh, and we can't forget about Google's big logo change!


Amid the moonshots, the 'Other Bet' to see the biggest change was smart-home hardware maker Nest. CEO Tony Fadell stepped in June, replaced by former Motorola exec Marwan Fawaz.

Kimberley White / Getty and Nest

It was a pretty hectic year for Nest.
There have been several product issues, including outages with its smart cameras and instances where its smart thermostats randomly turned off, as well as complaints about Fadell's management, including unrealistic deadlines and product delays, and a hierarchical management structure, highlighted by Business Insider and then in a blistering exposé by The Information.

The company was also running behind its revenue goals, according to Recode.

Meanwhile, the CEO of life sciences company, Verily faced some criticism too.


Verily's goal is to use technology to better prevent and detect disease, and projects include making smart contact lenses to monitor your body's glucose levels and nanoparticles that will be able to search the human body for cancer. It just set up a new joint bioelectronics venture with a British pharmaceutical giant.

But a series of reports from Stat's Charles Piller have alleged that some of its tech isn't scientifically feasible and that Conrad has reportedly driven away some of Verily's top talent.

Meanwhile, Alphabet's other health-related company, Calico, hasn't had any drama. Led by former Genentech exec Arthur Levinson, Calico focuses on figuring out how to fight ageing and extend human life.

We haven't really gotten any news out of Calico in the last year, besides that it's now collaborating with the nonprofit biomedical research institution, JAX.

Footpath Labs, the unit aimed at revamping urban life, has seen much more action.

CEO of Footpath Labs, Dan Doctoroff

Footpath Labs launched two public projects: One to provide free WiFi in New York City and another to use anonymized data to understand traffic and congestion.

When The Information asked CEO Dan Doctoroff about a tip that its reporters had heard about the unit hiring consultants to build a city from scratch, he didn't explicitly confirm the plan, but called it a 'great idea.'

It was a slow overall year for corporate venture capital firms, but Alphabet's GV has been the most active player, according to CB Insights.

Getty / Noam Galai
GV CEO Bill Maris

Investments include Security Scorecard, Managed by Q, and ARMO BioSciences.

Source: CB Insights

Its growth equity fund, Google Capital, bought its first stake in a public company.

Getty / Paul Zimmerman
David Lawee leads Google Capital.

The unit invested $46.35 million in
Care.com, a site that helps people hire babysitters, housekeepers, pet watchers, and more, in June.

Craig Barratt leads that company, which is best known for its super-fast internet service, Fibre. It made a bit of a strategy shift this year.

Google's original plan to spread super-fast internet across the US involved running high-bandwidth fibre-optic cable directly to each home that its network would serve. That process has so far proved to be expensive and slow-moving.

Since it announced the acquisition of point-to-point wireless-internet company Webpass earlier this summer, the Fibre team has started turning more of its attention to a using a new approach that will pair existing fibre with its own wireless technology.

X is one of the new Alphabet companies. It's where some of the company's wildest ambitions are born, has made progress with its internet balloon project, Loon, and its drone project, Wing.


X also swallowed up all the robotics companies that Google bought in its 2013 buying spree. Alphabet disbanded the unit and is trying to sell the most high-profile company, Boston Dynamics.


Some pieces of the 'Other Bets' companies are still centralised. For instance, they all rely on Google's M&A team led by Don Harrison.


Alphabet lost $859 million on these 'Other Bets' companies in Q2, versus losses of $660 million at the same time last year. However, despite that swelling number, CFO Ruth Porat has stressed that Alphabet is being very 'disciplined' in its spending.


Wall Street seems to believe her. Alphabet's stock is up roughly 22% from its opening price on August 10, 2015.

Want a recap of what Alphabet looks like, zoomed out? Here's our handy chart:

Mike Nudelman / Business Insider

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