Other times though, Google’s decisions leave us scratching our heads.
Some examples of weird uses of cash (click on each item to learn more):
- $40 million on Windmills
- $86 million low-income housing tax credit
- 114 megawatts of Wind power from NextEra Energy
- A full-time Beekeeper
- $1 million in shweeb, a human powered monorail
- fibre optic networks across America.
- $500 million in Clearwire
- A prototype mirror for solar
- $3.9 million in genetics testing
- $30 million in space travel
Remember: Google is a web-based advertising and software company. Why does it blow money on things like spacetrips and bicycle-powered monorails? These are obivously non-core businesses and investments.
Our guess: Google doesn’t spend a lot of money on traditional advertising. Maybe funding quirky projects like windmills and beekeeping is Google’s way of defining its brand. These projects also likely boost employee morale.
That’s fine and good, but if shareholders get another year so of flat stock due to a decelerating single revenue stream, they might start wondering why the company’s money doesn’t entirely go toward revinestments closer to Google’s core competencies.
Google is selling energy on the spot market thanks to a deal where it bought 114 megawatts of Wind power from NextEra Energy. It's a very unusual move to say the least. The power would be enough to power several data centres, but Google doesn't have data centres near the Iowa windfarm it bought the energy from. So, Google is just speculating.
In fairness to Google, this one isn't that weird and it's not that expensive. Google has an official beekeeper. He takes care of 4 bee's nests on Google's campus. The chef at Google thought it would be a good idea to have bees nearby for fresh honey.
This one is just crazy. Shweeb puts people in clear pods which are powered by people kicking their legs as if on a bicycle. Google gave the company $1 million to see if it can make the Shweeb an eco-friendly transportation company.
Google wants to build super fast fibre Internet networks in a few towns in America. Why? Well a Google rep one tried to explain to us that it's good for Google if more people use high speed Internet. OK, we guess. But why is Google doing this?
Google invested $500 million in Clearwire a few years back. At the time, Google said Clearwire woul, 'provide wireless consumers with real choices for the software applications, content and handsets that they desire.' And that's why it was investing. Clearly, it changed its mind about Clearwire at some point because it hasn't put anymore money in. And we're not sure how the investment helps Google now.
Google is very into the clean energy market. To that end it's investing in building a prototype of a solar panel that could reduce the cost of solar energy by 2X. Neat. But again, why is GOOGLE doing this?
The decision to invest $3.9 million in 23andMe, the startup founded by Sergey Brin's wife was controversial. 23andMe immediately used the money to pay back Sergey who had loaned $2.6 million out of his own pocket. This has nothing to do with Google's core business, and it sure looks bad, so why do it?
Google is dangling $30 million out there for the first privately funded team to 'to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth.'