Almost two years ago, Google announced it would change its name to Alphabet, which would effectively be a holding company for Google and its various businesses — YouTube, Android, etc. — as well as Google’s moonshots factory, X, its investment arms, and more.
In a letter to Alphabet shareholders on Thursday, CEO Larry Page, a Google cofounder, said Alphabet was “working well” in overseeing and guiding its companies and that “there’s a lot more to come.”
Page provided updates on Alphabet’s projects and companies, but there wasn’t much talk about Google itself, aside from some compliments for Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his various undertakings, such as getting machine learning and artificial intelligence into more consumer products like smartphones and smart-home devices.
While Page didn’t announce any news in this letter, it provides an interesting bird’s-eye view of Alphabet’s projects and how far they have come in the past year-plus. He emphasised Alphabet’s self-driving-car company, Waymo, which has recently been embroiled in legal and technological battles with Uber as both companies pursue similar automated-chauffeur services. Page didn’t mention Waymo’s competition but shared his excitement about its eventual launch.
Here’s Page’s full letter to Alphabet shareholders:
“A is for Alphabet”
Hard to believe we are about a quarter short of two years of announcing Alphabet. It’s been busy! I certainly feel Alphabet is working well, and as intended (see the original “G is for Google” announcement). At the time, I wrote that “Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence.” The new structure has helped entrepreneurs build and run companies with the autonomy and speed they need.
Sergey and I are working well together on the overall Alphabet direction and providing guidance to the companies. Sundar is doing great as Google CEO. It’s certainly a big job and we are very lucky to have him. He’ll probably write this letter again in the future as he has in the past, so I won’t speak too much for him on the Google related topics in this one. But, I’m excited about how he is leading the company with a focus on machine learning and AI. We took a big step in that direction with the Google Assistant, and built it into a new family of hardware devices like the Pixel and Google Home. There’s a lot more to come.
We’ve had a number of significant things happen on the Alphabet side since I last wrote. A number of our projects became companies, with more autonomy and dedicated leadership.
Waymo is the new self-driving car company formed from Project Chauffeur at X. John Krafcik is the new CEO and brings significant auto industry experience. I love the name and I love even more the excitement you can see when you visit with them! They also formed a partnership with Fiat Chrysler around their new plug-in hybrid Pacifica minivan which I see driving around the Waymo offices with lots of sensors on it. I can’t wait until Waymo launches.
Verily Life Sciences launched in December 2015 with Andy Conrad as founding CEO, also coming out of X. They have launched myriad efforts and raised $US800M from Temasek, who joined their board and will help with Asian expansion. I’m very fond of their Debug project, which aims to stop mosquitoes in their tracks. It has been running for a while, showing some good foresight because it was started before Zika became a big concern.
In June 2016, Marwan Fawaz became CEO of Nest. He has been doing great against their plan, and we have really been enjoying working with him! I recommend you buy all their excellent products including indoor and outdoor cameras, learning thermostats, and smoke alarms.
Very recently Greg McCray started as CEO of Google Fibre. I’ve been enjoying working with him and his team and he has rapidly been getting up to speed. He visited all of our Fibre cities so quickly that I think he was still a bit out of breath when he got back to Mountain View! We have made significant investments in bringing gigabit fibre internet to lots of happy customers and I’m excited about our opportunities to do it better.
We have many other efforts within Alphabet. Calico CEO Art Levinson, former CEO of Genentech, is building an amazing research and development company focused on ageing. We also have newly branded investment arms, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and CapitalG (formerly Google Capital) which are doing well. Sergey is continuing to spend time working with the X moonshot factory. They have a number of efforts like Wing, which is doing drone delivery. I also can’t wait for them to launch!
With the change to Alphabet, oversight has been easier because of increased visibility. We have streamlined efforts where it made sense and in other areas we have seen places to double down. I also think we have learned a lot about how to set up new companies with a structure for success. Our recent launch of Waymo was a great example of our learnings. In general we are taking a patient approach to investing our capital, especially significant uses. We’re not going to invest if we don’t see great opportunities and we feel like our track record for picking some important efforts long before others is pretty good. Machine learning and all the efforts around Google Brain and Deepmind are good examples. Google Cloud led by Diane Greene is doing a fabulous job of getting our machine learning hardware and software out to everyone. We were early in machine learning and are already seeing significant dividends coming out. Many of the Alphabet companies are already using this technology and are planning to use it even more.
So in conclusion, Sergey and I are having a good time looking for new opportunities and managing and scaling our existing efforts. I still see amazing opportunities that just aren’t quite fully developed yet — and helping making them real is what I get excited about.
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