Alphabet Inc.
Alphabet
Company typePublic
ISIN
IndustryConglomerate
FoundedOctober 2, 2015; 8 years ago (2015-10-02)
Founders
HeadquartersGoogleplex, ,
U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Products
RevenueIncrease US$307.4 billion (2023)
Increase US$84.29 billion (2023)
Increase US$73.79 billion (2023)
Total assetsIncrease US$402.4 billion (2023)
Total equityIncrease US$283.4 billion (2023)
Owners
  • Larry Page (controlling shareholder)
  • Sergey Brin (controlling shareholder)
Number of employees
182,502 (2023)
Subsidiaries
Websiteabc.xyz
Footnotes / references
[1]

Alphabet Inc. is an American multinational technology conglomerate holding company headquartered in Mountain View, California. Alphabet is the world's third-largest technology company by revenue and one of the world's most valuable companies.[2][3] It was created through a restructuring of Google on October 2, 2015,[4] and became the parent company of Google and several former Google subsidiaries.[5][6][7] It is considered one of the Big Five American information technology companies, alongside Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft.

The establishment of Alphabet Inc. was prompted by a desire to make the core Google business "cleaner and more accountable" while allowing greater autonomy to group companies that operate in businesses other than Internet services.[6][8] Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced their resignation from their executive posts in December 2019, with the CEO role to be filled by Sundar Pichai, also the CEO of Google. Page and Brin remain employees, board members, and controlling shareholders of Alphabet Inc.[9]

History

On August 10, 2015, Google announced plans to create a new public holding company, Alphabet Inc. Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page made this announcement in a blog post on Google's official blog.[10] Alphabet was created to restructure Google by moving subsidiaries from Google to Alphabet, thus narrowing Google's scope. The new holding company would consist of Google as well as other businesses including X Development, Calico, Nest, Verily, Fiber, Makani, CapitalG, and GV.[11][12][13] Sundar Pichai, the company's Product Chief, became the new chief executive officer of Google, replacing Page, who transitioned to the role of running Alphabet, along with co-founder Sergey Brin.[14][15]

In his announcement, Page stated that the planned holding company would allow for "more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren't very related" to Google. He clarified that, as a result of the new holding company, Google would be "a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products contained in Alphabet instead".[16] He further stated that the motivation behind the reorganization is to make Google "cleaner and more accountable and better" and that that he wanted to improve "the transparency and oversight of what we're doing".[6][8]

Former executive Eric Schmidt (now Technical Advisor) revealed in the conference in 2017 the inspiration for this structure came from Warren Buffett and his management structure of Berkshire Hathaway a decade ago.[17] Schmidt said he encouraged Page and Brin to meet with Buffett in Omaha to see how Berkshire Hathaway was a holding company made of subsidiaries with strong CEOs who were trusted to run their businesses.[17]

Before it became a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google Inc. was first structured as the owner of Alphabet. The roles were reversed after a placeholder subsidiary was created for the ownership of Alphabet, at which point the newly formed subsidiary was merged with Google. Google's stock was then converted to Alphabet's stock. Under the Delaware General Corporation Law (where Alphabet is incorporated), a holding company reorganization such as this can be done without a vote of shareholders, as this reorganization was.[18] The restructuring process was completed on October 2, 2015.[4] Alphabet retains Google Inc.'s stock price history and continues to trade under Google Inc.'s former ticker symbols "GOOG" and "GOOGL"; both classes of stock are components of major stock market indices such as the S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100.[19]

On December 3, 2019, Page and Brin jointly announced that they would step down from their respective roles, remaining as employees and still the majority vote on the board of directors. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, assumed the CEO role at Alphabet while retaining the same at Google.[20]

The firm completed a stock split in mid-2022.[21]

On January 20, 2023, Pichai wrote a letter to all employees announcing that the company would be laying off about 12,000 jobs, or 6% of its global workforce. In the letter, Pichai wrote, "Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today."[22]

In January 2024, Waymo, the autonomous driving division of Alphabet Inc.,which operates extensively in San Francisco, filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission to expand service in Los Angeles. Such a license would allow the company to make full use of its fleet in the city instead of test drives by invitation.[23]

Structure

Alphabet Inc. is the parent of a diverse set of subsidiaries:[24][25][26]

Subsidiary Business Executive Leader
Calico Human health (by overcoming aging) Arthur D. Levinson
CapitalG Private equity for growth stage technology companies David Lawee
Google Internet services, largest subsidiary and prior corporate entity name Sundar Pichai
Google Fiber Internet access: via fiber Dinesh Jain
GV Venture capital for technology companies David Krane
Intrinsic Robotics software Wendy Tan White[27]
Isomorphic Labs Drug discovery Demis Hassabis
Mineral Sustainable agriculture Elliott Grant[28]
Verily Human health Andrew Conrad
Waymo Autonomous driving Dmitri Dolgov

Tekedra Mawakana

Wing Drone-based delivery of freight James Ryan Burgess
X Development Research and development for "moonshot" technologies Astro Teller

As of September 1, 2017, their equity is held by a subsidiary known as XXVI Holdings, Inc. (referring to the Roman numeral of 26, the number of letters in the alphabet), so that they can be valued and legally separated from Google. At the same time, it was announced that Google would be reorganized as a limited liability company, Google LLC.[29][30]

Eric Schmidt said at an Internet Association event in 2015 that there may eventually be more than 26 Alphabet subsidiaries. He also said that he was currently meeting with the CEOs of the current and proposed Alphabet subsidiaries. He said, "You'll see a lot coming."[31]

While many companies or divisions formerly a part of Google became subsidiaries of Alphabet, Google remains the umbrella company for Alphabet's Internet-related businesses. These include widely used products and services long associated with Google, such as the Android mobile operating system, YouTube, and Google Search, which remain direct components of Google.[11][32]

Former subsidiaries include Nest Labs, which was merged into Google in February 2018[33] and Chronicle which was merged with Google Cloud in June 2019.[34] Sidewalk Labs was absorbed into Google in 2021 following CEO Daniel L. Doctoroff's departure from the company due to a suspected ALS diagnosis.[35]

In January 2021, Loon LLC CEO Alastair Westgarth mentioned in a blog post[36] that the company would be shutting down, citing lack of a scalable and sustainable business model. In July 2021, Alphabet announced Intrinsic, a new robotics software company spun out of X.[37] In November 2021, Alphabet announced a new company named Isomorphic Labs, using artificial intelligence for drug discovery and headed by DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis.[38]

Ownership

Alphabet is mainly owned by institutional investors, who own over 60% of shares. The founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are each controlling around 3% of all shares, but are controlling with other insiders the majority of voting shares. The largest shareholders in December 2023 were:[39]

Senior leadership

Source:[41]

List of former board chairs

  1. Eric Schmidt (2015–2017)

List of former chief executives

  1. Larry Page (2015–2018)

Corporate identity

Page explained the origin of the company's name:[16]

We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity's most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!

In a 2018 talk, Schmidt disclosed that the original inspiration for the name came from the location of the then Google Hamburg office's street address: ABC-Straße.[42]

Alphabet has chosen the domain abc.xyz with the .xyz top-level domain (TLD), which was introduced in 2014. It does not own the domain alphabet.com, which is owned by a fleet management division of BMW. Following the announcement, BMW said it would be "necessary to examine the legal trademark implications" of the proposals. Additionally, it does not own the domain abc.com, which is the domain of the Disney-owned American Broadcasting Company.[43][44]

Finances

For the fiscal (and calendar) year 2021, Alphabet reported a net income of $76.033 billion. The annual revenue was $257.6 billion, an increase of 41% over the previous fiscal year.

Year Revenue
(mil. USD)
Net income
(mil. USD)
Total assets
(mil. USD)
Employees
2016[45] 90,272 19,478 167,497 72,053
2017[46] 110,855 12,662 197,295 80,110
2018[47] 136,819 30,736 232,792 98,771
2019[48] 161,857 34,343 275,909 118,899
2020[49] 182,527 40,269 319,616 135,301
2021[50] 257,637 76,033 359,268 156,500
2022[51] 282,836 59,972 365,264 190,234
2023[1] 307,394 73,795 402,392 182,502

As per its 2017 annual report, 86% of Alphabet's revenues came from performance advertising (through user clicks using AdSense and Google Ads) and brand advertising.[52] Of these, 53% came from its international operations. This translated to a total revenue of US$110,855 million in 2017 and a net income of US$12,662 million.

On February 1, 2016, Alphabet Inc. surpassed Apple to become the world's most valuable publicly traded company until February 3, 2016, when Apple surged back over Alphabet to retake the position. Experts cited Apple's lack of innovation as well as increasing Chinese competition as reasons for the poor performance.[53][54]

As of 2019, Alphabet is ranked No. 15 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.[55]

On January 16, 2020, Alphabet became the fourth US company to reach a $1 trillion market value[56] entering the trillion dollar companies club for the first time.

In October 2022, Alphabet recorded the weakest quarterly growth, with fewer sales in nearly a decade. The possible global recession, the strong US dollar, and the pandemics all contributed to the slowed economy.[57]

In 2023, Alphabet was ranked 7th in the Global 2000 (World's Largest Public Companies).[58]

Investments and acquisitions

Investments

In November 2017, Alphabet Inc. led a Series A round of $71 million along with Andreessen Horowitz and 20th Century Fox in music startup UnitedMasters, founded by Steve Stoute.[59]

In addition to funding startups, Alphabet also invests in more mature companies, including publicly traded companies like Uber and privately held companies like Medium.[60]

Acquisitions

Main article: List of mergers and acquisitions by Alphabet

An analysis of the company's investments in 2017 suggested that it was the most active investor in that period, outdoing the capital arm of Intel and also its own best customer. Alphabet, Inc. acquired seven of its own capital-backed startups in the 2017 financial year, with Cisco second having acquired six of the company's previous investments.[61]

Lawsuits and controversies

See also: Criticism of Google, Google litigation, European Union vs. Google, Censorship by Google, and Privacy concerns regarding Google

In 2017, Alphabet Inc. sued Uber over technology similar to Alphabet's proprietary self-driving car technology. Alphabet's autonomous vehicle technology had been under development for a decade by Alphabet's Waymo (self-driving vehicle division). The proprietary technology is related to 14,000 documents believed to have been downloaded and stolen by a former Waymo engineer, subsequently employed by Uber.[62][63] The lawsuit was settled in February 2018, with Uber agreeing not to use the self-driving technology in dispute and also agreed to provide Waymo with an equity stake of 0.34%, equating to around $245 million at the firm's early 2018 value.[64]

In October 2018, a class action lawsuit was filed against Google and Alphabet due to "non-public" Google+ account data being exposed as a result of a privacy bug that allowed app developers to gain access to the private information of users. The litigation was settled in July 2020 for $7.5 million with a payout to claimants of at least $5 each, with a maximum of $12 each.[65][66][67]

In October 2020, the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet, alleging anti-competitive practices.[68]

On 2 December 2020, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint that claimed Alphabet Inc conducted unlawful monitoring and questioning of several workers at Google. The employees in question were fired for unionization attempts and protesting company policies. The board also alleges that Google unlawfully placed employees on administrative leave in retribution. Alphabet Inc has denied any wrongdoing and said it acted legally.[69]

On 7 June 2021, Alphabet Inc., parent company to Google, announced it had settled an antitrust suit with the French Autorité de la concurrence with a payment of $270 million. The settlement amounted to less than 0.7% of Alphabet Inc.'s yearly earnings.[70]

On 12 June 2021, it was announced that Japan would launch an antitrust probe into Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. to determine whether their dealings with Japanese smartphone makers violate current antitrust measures or could necessitate new ones.[71]

In May 2022, Russian authorities seized Google's Russian bank account,[72] forcing them to file for bankruptcy one month later due to the inability to pay vendors and staff. However, free services such as Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Android and Play were to remain available.[73]

In 2023, the company was criticized for conducting mass lay-offs without informing employees before they arrived to work, including many long-tenured and recently promoted employees. According to various posts on social media, several Google employees discovered they had been terminated after they were unable to access their accounts and confirming it through news articles discussing the mass layoffs.[74][75][76]

See also

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Further reading