What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity).
Google has been focused on diversifying their business for a long time, even before their IPO. In August of 2003, they posted a job listing on Craigslist looking for a manager to run their collection of Googlettes, which were essentially startups within Google:
What is a Googlette? It’s a new business inside of Google that is just getting started — the start-up within the start-up. We’re looking for an experienced, entrepreneurial manager capable of offering direction to a team of PMs working on a wide array of Googlettes. You will define Google’s innovation engine and grow the leaders of our next generation of businesses.
Georges Harik, who is now an advisor for Google Ventures, was a former director of the Googlettes:
As director of Googlettes, his team was responsible for the product management and strategy efforts surrounding many nascent Google initiatives including Gmail, Google Talk, Google Video, Picasa, Orkut, Google Groups and Google Mobile.
At the time, I riffed on this idea a little and imagined Google spinning out these businesses as a confederation of stand-alone companies:
Instead of generating ideas and people for internal use, what if they’re incubating start-ups to spin off into companies of their own? Fast forward five years and instead of being a big huge company, Google is a big huge company at the center of a network of 10-20 large to medium-sized companies with similar goals, values, and business practices. Most of these spin-offs would be engaged in businesses similar (and probably complementary) to each other and the Google Mother Ship, some of them maybe even directly competing with each other.
In hindsight, Alphabet is a much better name than Google Mother Ship.
Super-cool video from i-D of dance styles for each letter of the alphabet.
People whose surnames begin with the first few letters of the alphabet (A-I) seem to react differently to certain situations than those whose surnames begin with the letters at the end of the alphabet (R-Z). Slate reports.
E-mails were sent out to adults offering them $500 to participate in a survey. Average response time was between six and seven hours. The same negative correlation between response time and alphabetic rank was observed, but only when the researchers looked at the names the respondents were born with. When Carlson and Conard looked at married names or names changed for some other reason, the correlation dwindled to insignificance. This, they conclude, demonstrates that the “last name effect” derives from “a childhood response tendency.” Only people who grew up with a name at the back of the alphabet demonstrated truly Pavlovian responses to the $500 offer.
See also the birth-month soccer anomaly.
The theme and title of the piece was ‘Learn your A-B-Sea’ and took the format of an alphabet chart illustrated with fish and sea creatures that could be found in the local stretch of water, the Arabian Gulf.
A set of nicely illustrated Star Wars ABC cards. A is for Ackbar, S is for Sarlacc, etc.
If you need to read any literature from Krypton (Superman’s home planet), here’s the 118 letter alphabet you’ll need to know.
The politically incorrect alphabet. A is for abortion, B is for bomb, C is for cigarettes…
Design critique of the alphabet. “Puhleez! The capital I without the crossbars top and bottom is either the laziest piece of design in history, or an elegant stroke of modernism. With the crossbars it’s just clunky, boring and awkward. The lowercase i is kind of cute with that little dot, I suppose, but I’m not really buying it. This one should have never made it out of the comp stage.”