With the news that Google is to become the largest subsidiary of new parent company, Alphabet, Dr Diepiriye Kuku, Senior Lecturer in Cross Cultural Management at Northampton Business School, gives his view.
“When the public wants to know, most begin by Googling. Google recognised Googling belongs to modern global culture: this single site is a driver of globalisation – and should not be limited by one company, dominated by an ethos of corporate growth equated with profit. The racing pace of socio-economic, environmental and ideological calamities – as well as improved Internet accessibility – has been an autocatalysis for the public’s demand for details. This all hastened the growth of Google.com. Alphabet recognises that to remain relevant it must diversify its stock and claims, and perhaps even one day subsidise Google.
Google is a modern phrase, despite the company initially claiming this coinage risked tarnishing its brand. The verb describes an action so basic, yet so new to modern human life, that it warranted a whole new moniker. Alternatively, Google ‘corporate growth’, and you’ll find results filled with maleficence and malfeasance. Corporate growth is now too often aligned solely with money, says Naomi Klein: “When the profit motive is primary, human needs are left behind.” The Alphabet restructuring seems an attempt to segregate a basic human need from other, potentially more profitable corporate interests.
As a public entity, Google is allowed to be free, and free from spying. Yet as a private entity, it can also take social risks: Google rotates its banner to recognise real-world, often counter-cultural people/achievements ignored by traditional media.
There is a modern space for Google’s transition, given contemporary suspicions over private interests usurping public goods. These examples surfaced earlier in environmentalism, but the ethos of the discussion equally weighs in on net neutrality, and here Google will need to take a firmer and more transparent stance. In effect, Google is a privately traded, public entity. This recent restructuring potentially renders that public entity to be more accessible and focused just on Googling.
Alphabet is freer to revolutionise technology peripheral to the basic Internet search (hitherto under the rubric of GoogleX, with Projects ‘Glass’, ‘Loon’ ‘Contact Lens’ and the self-driving car). Alphabet is freer to consume Google as the public does, while pursuing a whole range of private interests. Is this a new model for social investment?
Google’s stock converts into Alphabet stock, so investors presumably gain, with the overnight announcement allotting Google the time to aggregate and temper public response. Alphabet stands on a firm sociolinguist investment in the verb ‘to Google’, as much as Levi’s commercialised jeans, people ‘xerox’ instead of photocopying, and ‘coke’ can stand in for any cola. With the opportunity at co-branding, investors are on solid ground.”