Google! Now and Into the Future

2018 is the 20th anniversary of the incorporation of the most impactful and powerful companies in history, Google! The past two decades have transformed society as we know it. We live in a time where if you’re walking down the street, you can google the best restaurant to eat at, the cinema with the best movies playing that night, and how to get to both of those places with the quickest route possible. Google has created countless products that have drastically changed how we live our daily lives, and many of those have been introduced in the last couple years. And that’s what I’ll be focusing on in this post! We’ll take a look at what Google has done in the past five years, and then explore what they are looking to do in the next five years (after a quick history lesson).

Quick History: Humbled Beginnings 

Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google started in 1995 as a research project aimed at creating a better search engine. At the time, conventional search engines ranked websites by the number of times the search terms appeared on the page. Page and Brin wanted to produce a more efficient system, so they made BackRub, which based results on the relevance of websites. Using their proprietary technology called PageRank, BackRub determined the relevance of a website by analyzing the number of linked pages to the website and how important those relationships were. BackRub received outside financing from early investors such as Andy Bechtolsheim and raised over $1 million in the following few years.

The_first_Google_computer_at_Stanford

Google’s first computer, encased in Legos. Note the early affinity for color.

In 1998, Brin and Page (thankfully) changed the company’s name to Google and moved to a garage in Menlo Park. This garage was owned by current YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and hosted the team as they perfected Google Search. Quick fun fact: the garage was covered in bright blue carpet, which the team partially credits for their use of vibrant colors throughout the company. As Google succeeded, it needed to relocate into bigger spaces. Google moved into Palo Alto offices in 1999, but more famously moved to Mountain View in 2003, where they are currently located. The campus is nicknamed the Googleplex, and it’s so amazing that it warrants a blog post on its own. Here, Google has produced just about everything, from Web-based services (such as Gmail and Google Maps) to software (Android and Google Chrome) to hardware (Google Home and Pixel smartphone).

Recently

One of Google’s defining business moves was a complete corporate restructuring. In August of 2015, Google became the leading subsidiary under the umbrella company Alphabet Inc. under new CEO Sundar Pichai. The new conglomerate is led by Google founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, who are respectively CEO, President and Executive Chairman of Alphabet. Alphabet’s main subsidiaries include Google, Calico, Waymo, Nest Labs and Google Fiber.

alphabet1

Why? It seems like a logistical nightmare to reorganize a company of such magnitude. Google had appeared to be handling its operations smoothly, so a restructuring caught many observers off-guard. But it makes perfect sense when you think about Google’s mission. Before Alphabet, Google had a similar situation to Apple: defining its company type was nearly impossible. Not only was it an Internet service company, but it was a platform, advertising*, software and multinational technology company (among others you can think of). Google was working on projects all over the board. Self-driving cars, health initiatives and virtual reality projects were all being worked on while also focusing on its core products.

To provide Google with a clearer mission and a narrower scope, Alphabet took over the ‘moonshot’ projects. It provides the structure and support to allow branches such as Waymo and Calico to continue their autonomous car endeavors and biotechnology endeavors while freeing Google from those responsibilities. Google can concentrate on its main products such Google Search, YouTube and Android. It also helps investors, as they now have better control on their investments. Google reports two financial segments (core and non-core), so investors can break down the strengths of the core aspects and the “profligate spending” of the non-core branches.

Speaking of Waymo

Katie recently touched on this subject in her blog, so you should definitely check it out! Waymo is one of the leaders in the autonomous car industry. Just last week, it deepened its partnership with Fiat Chrysler by agreeing to buy thousands more of minivans from the automaker. Waymo does not have the infrastructure to manufacture its own cars, so this provides an advantage against other tech giants that also don’t have in-house production. In 2016, 100 minivans were delivered to the company. An additional 500 were supplied the following year. Clearly, Waymo is trying to accelerate its progress as they are willing to spend over $40 million on cars alone. Waymo doubled its total autonomous miles count in 2017, driving 2 million miles and putting the total at over 4 million.

waymo.jpg

 

DeepMind Technologies and Autodraw

Another of Google’s newest strategies is to foster innovation within the artificial intelligence and machine learning fields. Google acquired DeepMind Technologies in 2014. DeepMind is an artificial intelligence company that’s created neural networks and systems that rely solely on raw pixels as its data input. Nothing is pre-programmed; it learns exclusively from experience. And although these systems were originally meant for video game AI, Google has transformed its purpose into an all-encompassing program.

The technology is being nurtured through AI experiments such as AutoDraw. AutoDraw is a drawing tool that uses machine learning to enhance drawings that users create. You draw a crude image and the program will suggest better-drawn images based on what it thinks you drew. It gathers the users’ responses and interprets the data to improve its future guesses. Other Google AI ventures that leverage this technology include Font Map and Teachable Machine. Although I couldn’t find any explicit proof, Google seems to be using this technology in conjunction with its autonomous car program.

I thought I’d be more artistic than a computer, but apparently not. 

Smart Cities

Google is aiming to transform our cities into high-tech, digital hubs where everything is connected. Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, introduced a cloud-based platform called Coord. Coord is for the numerous on-demand mobility services, such as bike-sharing and car-sharing. The goal is to interweave all transportation apps by providing them with standardized API data gathered from various points around the city and using that data to manage congestion on the streets. It’s their first step in creating a ‘smart city’ where everything is more efficient.

Another way to attack this goal is through their use of new construction methods and flexible, sustainable building designs. Sidewalk Labs wants infrastructure to be all weatherproof and data-driven to enable people to use the city as a “public space for social connections”. Personally, I love to hear this. They’ve kept many of their projects under wraps, so it’ll be interesting to see what they achieve in the coming years.

Smart-City-in-a-Box-741x1024

Google Fiber

Finally, Google’s initiative to deliver broadband Internet and IPTV to consumers has been growing slowly but surely. Google Fiber is a fiber-to-the-premises service that offers five options, including a free Internet option and a 1 Gbit/s Internet option with television. It is currently offered in nine parts of the United States. It was first launched in the Kansas City metropolitan area and after three years, was announced as a viable business model. Last year, Google Fiber launched in three new cities: Huntsville, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; and San Antonio, Texas. The year before, Google Fiber bought Webpass, an Internet service provider that has a significant presence in the Bay Area, Southern California, Florida and Boston. Google Fiber is currently trying to expand its presence in those areas.

These are some of the many projects that Google and Alphabet have been working on recently. I’d absolutely recommend checking out others! Here’s a couple to start you off: Project Fi, Google Station, opensource.google.com and We Wear Culture. Google continues to push for the most innovative products and services. This is why they have been so successful in so many different markets. I’m looking forward to visiting them and learning even more!

Questions One Might Ask:

  • Which of these endeavors has the most potential in terms of revenue? impact? longevity?
  • How have the companies at Google changed after becoming subsidiaries of Alphabet?
  • In what direction does Google want to take the autonomous car project?
  • How will the distribution of revenue change as Google advances in new directions (if at all)?

 

*I’d say Google is an advertising company at this point

Sources: AlphabetMore AlphabetFiat & WaymoWaymoDeepMindSidewalk LabsGoogle Fiber

10 thoughts on “Google! Now and Into the Future

  1. Hey Dylan, great blog post! You really encompassed so much about Google’s past, present, and future, and you asked insightful questions. I think that Alphabet is a confusing concept to some people who don’t know about the corporate restructuring, so that graph is super clear and a great visual. Google is such an inspiring company and where they head in the future is undoubtedly going to change our world as we know it. I hadn’t heard of Smart Cities or Google Fiber so it was also interesting to learn about that as well! It’s crazy to think that we can’t imagine our lives without Google!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Dylan! I can’t believe Google is turning 20 this year. Google has been around for just as long as many of us have, and I can’t imagine a world without it! Your post provides a very thorough description of Google and where it’s headed. I’m amazed by Google’s “smart city” initiatives and could definitely envision this technology in countries around the world. It’s amazing to see how much more sustainable and efficient Google’s technology could make our cities and homes. You really captured how Google is much more than just a search company and how Google has largely transformed, and continues to transform, the world.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This is a really clear, well-researched blog! I’m glad you focused on Alphabet’s interesting ventures as opposed to Google services that we already know. Alphabet has its hand in so many different industries, and somehow I suspect they are all connected. Picture: Waymo trained by AI research from Deepmind and Autodraw driving through a smart city powered by a Google Fiber connection. Many of these ideas sound futuristic, but I’m optimistic that we’ll see advancements sooner than society expects. Data-driven and useful smart cities are especially intriguing…I wonder which cities will be the first to see smart city technology.

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  4. Google and I will both turn 20 this year! Hard to imagine!
    I think you did a great job highlighting one of the most influential companies today. I am really intrigued by all the projects that Alphabet is taking on and how they span so many fields. This would be unfeasible for most companies to be spread so thin, but when you are the parent company of Google, anything seems possible! It really reinforces my image of Google as an all-encompassing and ever-present force in the lives of people today. So much of Google’s technology is changing the world even if we don’t know it. For example, in my blog post, I mentioned Verge Genomics, which uses Google’s search engine technology to fight neurodegeneration! Who would have known?

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  5. Great post, Dylan! I think it’s incredible how pervasive and all-encompassing of a company that Google has become. Given how many branches and useful applications that it now has, It’s almost impossible to separate the company from our society at this point.

    With that said, however, and along the lines of initiatives like Smart Cities, I believe that Google brings up some interesting questions on governments versus corporations. In other words, if an entity of extremely large size has the power to meaningfully improve society, to what degree should they be restricted by political frameworks? Of course, some level of regulation is always required, but where do we draw the line between enormous enterprises and the various authorities that allow them to exist? Other instances of this tension include AirBnB and its expansion in San Francisco, as well as SpaceX and its competition with NASA. Such a debate will only continue to grow as technology progresses, and it will be interesting to see how Google handles it at the forefront. Great job again, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dylan, extremely thorough post! I loved your overview of the company. I was quite confused about the structure of Alphabet, so like Michelle said, that graphic was a great addition to your post!

    There is a LOT of exciting things happening at Google right now. I’m particularly intrigued by DeepMind Technologies. It’s amazing how Artificial Intelligence like this type of technology could learn exclusively by experience. As we’ve seen as a common theme throughout presentations and blog posts, data analysis and big data are important strategic advantages for many tech companies, and I think it is genius that Autodraw can collect data about its guesses’ accuracy to improve performance in the future. I wonder how accurate Autodraw is, but I’m sold by your visual example! That’s incredible.

    Also, if you could include more information about Google’s corporate culture in your presentation, that would be awesome! The firm is constantly being acknowledged as one of the best companies to work for in the world, and I’d be interested to learn more about why! Awesome job!

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  7. Great post. It is interesting to see how cities are being more and more “smart”. That is a phenomenal infographic, and it would be interesting to see how companies like Google fibre, or even 5G networks, could provide a system for cities, homes, and people to unite and no longer just have devices that are “islands”. Everything can become more efficient and consume less energy to perform the same task. If there has been one major impact on my life form this class, it must be that this class made me much more optimistic for the way we allocate our resources.

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  8. Very interesting post, Dylan! I remember hearing about Google Fiber years ago and I’ve anxiously waited for it to come to my city ever since. It’s no secret that their original search engine has been central to their success for the past 20 years, but it’ll be interesting to see which of their current ventures will carry them for another 20 years of success. I definitely could see Google Fiber being that. With Google now moving into live television with YouTube TV, they could definitely usurp companies like Verizon Fios.

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  9. Great post, Dylan! After reading the Google case, it astounds me how many ventures fall under the Alphabet umbrella, as your graphic shows. From Nest to GV to all things Google, Alphabet is attempting to infiltrate and corner every market they can! In particular, I’m excited to see how Waymo competes against Uber and other self-driving car ventures (especially given the recent lawsuit/settlement)! Throughout our lifetime, Google has consistently dared to dream big and has succeeded as a result. Can’t wait for your presentation!

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