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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.