Google announced Monday that it’s now part of a new umbrella company called Alphabet, which will separate its core internet businesses (still called Google) from Google execs’ various side projects (like trying to live forever, building self-driving cars controlling everything in your home).
Officially, the reason is that Google’s many tentacles became too diverse and difficult to manage, and organizing under Alphabet will give them more independence. Google just—as The New York Times notes—pulled a Berkshire Hathaway, adopting the holding company model Warren Buffet uses for his assorted, unrelated businesses. But the Times implies another motivation for Alphabet: appeasing investors who think Google has lost focus on its core business (which is not search—it’s advertising).
“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,” wrote Larry Page, co-founder of Google and one of the chiefs, along with Sergey Brin, of Alphabet.
“Alphabet” functions as a tidy metaphor for the company that mediates (and monetizes) nearly everything we do on the web, though. As former Gawker EIC Max Read pointed out, Google is positioning itself as the Alpha and the Omega, some kind of internet god whose control over our experience the name “Google” is too small and silly to encompass.
Nice, comforting thought for a Monday.