EC HH Vetting Alphabet’s $4 Billion In “Other Bets”

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Regardless of whether the policy remains in place today, one of Google’s most famous management philosophies has been the “20% rule”. Legend goes that especially in Google’s earlier days, employees were encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on new initiatives that could potentially benefit Google outside of their regular workflows, teams, and projects. This meant there was time to explore new ideas or to challenge existing status quos within the organization.

It’s a seemingly arbitrary and systematic way to spur innovation, but it has worked well over the years. The 20% rule has apparently led to new products such as Gmail, Google News, and AdSense, which are all important aspects of Google’s business today.

It should not be surprising then, that Google’s parent company Alphabet also takes a systematic approach to innovating outside of its core search business. By making ambitious “Other Bets” and keeping investors up-to-date with their own segment on the company’s financial statements, Alphabet shows both commitment and discipline in finding its next multi-billion dollar game-changer.

“Other Bets”

In 2016, Alphabet was a cash machine. The company raked in $19.5 billion of profit off of a whopping $87.4 billion of revenue.

The only challenge? If you do the math, 99% of that revenue comes from Google, which currently dominates digital advertising with a 41% share of the entire market.

Wisely, the company does not want to put all of its eggs in one basket – and it spends about 7% of its annual operating costs on facilitating “Other Bets”. Here is what else Alphabet is up to:

Google Fiber
Google Fiber aims to provide internet at super speeds across the United States. Rollout has been costly though and only nine locations have been launched since 2010.

Calico Labs
Calico Labs is made up of elite scientists with $1.5 billion worth of funding to research the causes of aging and how to expand the human life span.

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Disclosure: None.

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Abdullah Jouejati 9 months ago Contributor's comment

The diversification of Alphabet into dynamic and robust industries will allow it to start a new trend. The integration of technology into each of the respective markets will allow for new growth opportunities. Do you think that we can see Alphabet diversifying into green energy or more invested in automated cars?