What is Alphabet and Why Does Google’s New Umbrella Company Matter?

Written by Ryan Ogilvie - 11 Aug 2015

Last night (10 August 2015), Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced that Google, alongside many other companies formally operated by Google, will be moving to umbrella company, Alphabet.

Alphabet will essentially become a collection of companies, of which the largest is set to be Google itself. According to the SEC filing, Google will still retain ownership of many of the companies that are related to search and to the technical infrastructure of the business. These companies include the likes of YouTube, Android and Maps.

Alphabet will focus specifically on the more adventurous and ambitious products, with brands such as Calico, Nest, Fiber, Google Ventures, Google Capital and Google X all being managed as separate companies under Alphabet.

Larry Page will be operating Alphabet as CEO, with Sergey Brin stepping into the President role. Newly appointed Sundar Pichai will be taking over as the CEO of Google.

So what does this mean for business owners?

At this stage, the impact this has on everyday business owners is little to none. Even shareholders have nothing to worry about, as all shares from Google Inc. will convert to Alphabet Inc. shares.

Google the search engine will remain and the creation of Alphabet will have no impact on how it currently operates. So, there will be no impact on anything from an organic or paid perspective as part of this move, at least not in the immediate future.

A few technical SEO improvements for Alphabet

No company is perfect and it would seem that even Alphabet/Google can’t quite get its technical SEO right.

Firstly, it currently has three versions of the new domain indexed within Google:

All of these variations now 301 to the central https://abc.xyz, so the problem should eventually sort itself out. However, it’s definitely not good practice to have the issue in the first place!

Secondly, there is a hidden link within the content to http://www.hooli.xyz/ - a spoof company that is modelled on Google from the hit TV show Silicon Valley. Now, this is clearly in there as a joke and only marketers are likely to pick up on this. However, hidden links are clearly a violation of Google’s own guidelines and one that I am sure Google wouldn’t see the funny side of if it featured on any other website.

For reference:

”Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including…

”Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph”


Fresh Egg staff thoughts

Here are a collection of thoughts about the move from a number of Fresh Egg staff members:

Sarah Tunstall – commercial director

I think it’s a sensible move – with more and more brands under their belt (including Google the search engine), it doesn’t make sense for the holding company to call itself the name of just one of its products. Investors will have expected the change.”

Sarah Mann – client delivery coordinator

“I think as well as giving them clearer accounting, structure and investment lines, it also allows some of their wackier ideas to fail without harming the Google brand. With a number of failed attempts recently with Google in their name, it does tarnish the brand, linking it with failure rather than its massive successes.

“It seems a cynical way of keeping their sandbox ideas non-Google until they can fly. I wonder how it will hurt them commercially, though, if they launch anything without the Google name; whether it will have the same clout. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Stephen Jones – senior SEO manager

“In one sense, it’s a bit like their original mission goal – releasing technology into the wild in the labs environment and seeing what people did with it, then inviting the most promising developers to works as engineers to create workable products (that can also be monetised) for them. Now, they seem to be doing this on a larger scale, offering support (with a view to acquisition and ownership) of wider scale tech initiatives.

“Sort of a ‘Dragons Den’ with nicer smiles but quite likely to be just as (if not more so) ruthless.

“Given that a lot of technical innovation comes as a by-product from mil-tech, this may not be a bad thing. Putting more initiatives in the hands of a business monopoly may not be a good thing, either.”

Cath Foster – account director

“Will this announcement really make any difference to non-marketers’ perception of Google? Are people simply going to think that anything that Alphabet does is still Google? It is still being run by Brin and Page, so I am not convinced on the impact outside of workers and shareholders.”

Ben Bennett – sales director

“I think it’s a smart move; individual businesses will mean a much stronger focus on development and ultimately lead to faster, better and more innovative and ground-breaking products.”

Nathan Wood – head of biddable media

“This could be a great strategy to avoid Google being broken up in the future by being considered as a monopoly. As well as this, having Google associated to more ‘out there’ products could result in brand dilution.

“Google can now focus on what Google does best. In the meantime, Alphabet can focus on the new investments and different forms of technology, without worrying about the Google brand becoming diluted and sending out a mixed message as to what it does.”

Gareth Williams – senior project manager

“This is all about pleasing shareholders; this move will show them exactly where money is going on core Google products, as opposed to more R&D wings, such as Google X and Fiber.”

So, is Alphabet about promoting faster innovation, a way to keep shareholders happy, a move to keep the Google brand distinct, or somewhere in between all of the above? Let us know what you think…