Google Al­pha­bet: From A to X

The “other bets” at Google’s par­ent firm are shap­ing our fu­ture, from health­care to cities and be­yond. Ni­cole Kobie re­veals Al­pha­bet’s plans

PC Pro - - November 2017 Issue 277 -

Meet the “other bets” that Google’s par­ent is back­ing, in­clud­ing the enig­matic X.

Google is build­ing the fu­ture – or, should we say, Al­pha­bet is. The com­pany for­merly known as Google is us­ing the bil­lions of dol­lars it earns ev­ery quar­ter to build in­ter­net-sup­ply­ing bal­loons, driver­less cars and smart con­tact lenses – and is dili­gently study­ing thou­sands of ro­dents to help all of us live longer.

Such “other bets”, as they’re called in Al­pha­bet’s fi­nan­cial re­ports, aren’t de­signed to pay off any­time soon. Over the last quar­ter alone, they cost the com­pany $722 mil­lion. How­ever, as Google co-founder Larry Page ex­plains in Al­pha­bet’s launch let­ter, “you need to be a bit un­com­fort­able to stay rel­e­vant.”

Al­pha­bet’s in­vestors needn’t feel un­easy, as those “other bets” are set against the over­all com­pany profit of $7.8 bil­lion for the quar­ter. But, Al­pha­bet has al­ready started to shed some of its less suc­cess­ful side projects, sug­gest­ing the hold­ing com­pany will only tol­er­ate so much dis­com­fort. In the past year, it sold satel­lite imag­ing firm Terra Bella and ter­ri­fy­ing ro­bot­ics di­vi­sion Bos­ton Dy­nam­ics, while shut­ter­ing down so­lar-pow­ered, in­ter­net-by-drone idea Ti­tan and mod­u­lar smart­phone Project Ara.

Here are the projects Al­pha­bet has held onto – and what they may mean for our fu­ture health, cities, ve­hi­cles and more.

BE­LOW Cal­ico has con­ducted tests on worms to grasp the “mys­ter­ies” of age­ing

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