In 2015, we bid goodbye to the idea of “Google” as a search engine with an ad business that gushered out so much money that it could fund crazy ideas like self-driving cars.
Now, we have to call that company “Alphabet.”
Ever since Google blew up its corporate structure in September, new parent company Alphabet has started reshuffling different projects and breaking out divisions into stand-alone entities.
Although all the moonshots are still technically being funded by the money-spewing ads business and we won’t get to see any additional financials until Alphabet’s Q1 earnings report in January, it’s still been a wild year for The Company Formerly Known As Google.
On the stock side, Google soared.
A share of Alphabet stock will currently set you back nearly $750, up 42% from the ~$527 per share Google was fetching at the beginning of the year.
Part of that big boost came after Google tapped former Morgan Stanely CFO Ruth Porat to come run its financials. Wall Street loved her rhetoric of discipline and the stock leapt after her first earnings call in July:
But it hasn’t all been stock-highs and good product reviews.
The bad and the ugly
First, The Wall Street Journal published excerpts of a 2012 Federal Trade Commission report that showed that some staff wanted to charge three parts of Google’s business with antitrust violations, including illegally taking competitors’ content. The FTC documents, which the Journal received accidentally after filing a Freedom of Information Act request, made Google look like a bully.
Then, in April, the EU formally accused Google of violating antitrust laws in Europe. Besides the formal charges, the EU has another series of investigations into various Google businesses, including Android, Maps, and Shopping. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported in September that, closer to home, the FTC has started investigating Android, too.
Oh, and don’t forget that Russia said that Google’s practice of pre-loading apps on Android was illegal.
With a new corporate structure and a lot of messes left to be cleaned up overseas, as well as consistently vocal critics at home, it’s been a turbulent year for Google. Here’s to whatever new drama 2016 brings!