Why is Page’s Alphabet More than Just a Business Strategy?

The sudden restructuring of Google and the creation of Alphabet (overnight?), has certainly left the global tech pandits in utter bemusement. The effect of this change has perhaps been felt the most by Indians. Thank you Sundar Pichai for making an average Indian student’s life even more difficult. (Just kidding). On a serious note, hearty congratulations, if at all, you ever stumble upon this article.

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Without deviating much, let’s dig into the ‘why’ of the topic. While skimming through my Facebook feed this afternoon, I came across several articles discussing the same ‘why’ I had been pondering over since last night. In the hope of finding a satisfying answer to my own query, I read almost four to five of them. Here’s a quote from a piece published by Mashable :

“The most immediate benefit may simply be that CEO Larry Page, who is stepping away from day-to-day management, can spend more time playing with Legos.” -Seth Fiegerman

The article is definitely meaty, and furnishes a good amount of information related to how “Google’s portfolio of properties is broad and getting broader”, on how “Google, like many established technology companies, is also competing against the growing number of billion-dollar startups, or Unicorns, to hire and hold on to its top talent” and why “Page really began extricating himself from the CEO’s role by handing more product and management responsibilities to Pichai, who one former colleague describes as the better day-to-day CEO.”

Likewise, Todd Zenger in his article published by Harvard Business Review says:

The Google founders are already being called Warren Buffets-in-training. But as always, the company defies easy comparison. Google is not becoming Berkshire Hathaway, at least not exactly. It’s trying out something else entirely. Largely in an attempt to placate investors while preserving the founders’ unique theory of what their company is.

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The restructuring is clearly a response to Google’s stagnant share price and investor unease.”

Both the pieces map the company’s business footprints very closely. They serve as predictive analyses of what it might be venturing into next. But the only problem here is that the justification for the creation of Alphabet in both the articles is purely business oriented, something that I contest. Business of course is inextricable from Google, but Page has his own way of creating value for his company. He is not a business mogul, but the czar of innovations.

In terms of growing in business, Google has already accomplished as much as it could and perhaps more, under its brand umbrella. Now is the time for the much needed shift and Page could clearly foresee it. Handing over the management of his magnum opus to Pichai is the result of the same realization. By doing so, he conveniently shed the load of maintaining the status of Google off his shoulder to concentrate on something fresher and more fertile with larger scope for growth. Thus, making himself the king of the biggest mine of innovation called the Calico Labs.

Calico is a research and development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan.

Have you ever thought what drives technology? The answer is Life. The greatest propeller of technological innovations is the need to better the quality of our lives. Page in an interview had said, “The improbable is a given and the seemingly impossible is likely.” When we think of the impossible, the first thing that strikes our mind is living forever, exactly what this man wants to debunk. Alphabet is an attempt to incorporate the best of technologies and terabytes of data into the organic, to bring immortality into the domain of possibilities.

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In April 2015, The Washington Post came up with an article titled: Tech Titans’ Latest Project: Defy Death, which explores today’s billionaires’ quest for the fountain of youth. The article specifically mentions how Peter Thiel is aggressively investing in Life Sciences and immortality projects. Thiel, estimated to be worth $2.2 billion, maintains, “I believe that evolution is a true account of nature. But I think we should try to escape it or transcend it in our society.”

These tech titans are deploying billions to break the secret code of life by transforming Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Engineering. They are driven by a conviction that regenerating DNA, cells, organs and limbs will extend our lifespan. Google’s (now Alphabet’s) research on nanoparticles is absolutely focussed on engineering microscopic nanobots that can be injected into the body to revitalize the entire system thus making it disease free.

Life Sciences is where the new money is, companies and countries are pouring billions into it. Page of course realizes it better than many. But looking at the relentless competition amongst the big moneyed to pursue the code to defy death, the only thing that matters is, who reaches there first. Really looking forward to see what game-plan Page comes up with.

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