Alphabet (Google)

I use Google every day. I use its search engine, gmail, Youtube, Chrome, cloud, photos and calendar. My phone runs Android. Google organized my life. It’s hard to imagine a world without Alphabet-Google. Today, Google is a global icon that regularly pushes the boundaries of innovation in a variety of fields.

Google classic search

I had the chance to visit their campus. Google’s campus is famous. Google is well known for doing things differently. Not only it is an awesome working place, it is famous for throwing tons of perks at its employees. Free gourmet cafeterias, massage rooms, nap pods, haircuts and onsite. Why would a company offer so much? Well they want to keep their employees happy and productive. They put in 12-14 hours day and they need them at their best. It’s good to have your employees on site. I worked for a company that hired a catering service for lunch because leaving work site brings too many distractions. Another reason for the generous perks is that the Silicon Valley area is competing for their services. Their talent are highly sought after, not just in the Valley for everywhere in the world. The lesson here is to attract smart-creative people and give them an environment where they can thrive at scale.

Google organized the world’s information. This is an organization that has improved our lives. The world is certainly a better with Google. Alphabet’s business model is to collect data on users and sell that data for targeted ads. Alphabet, already one of the largest companies on the planet, seems to be defying the laws of physics by continuing to grow like a startup. Despite being over $100 billion, revenue is still growing at a rate of over 20% per year. Here are some financials:

Alphabet 10k

But Google is not perfect. Over time the company, through complicated user agreement and free software, has amassed a lot of power and influence. Google starts to remind of the Microsoft in the 90s when it had too much power for certain people. Politicians are starting to breathe on Google’s neck. There’s a growing call for breaking up Google and other tech giants like Amazon. In Europe Google has been forced to clean house ever since a 2014 ruling that says Europeans can request to be removed from search-engine results. It’s called the “Right to be forgotten” law. Google was fined $2.9 billion for denying “consumers a genuine choice” when shopping online for products. Even Former President Barack Obama lamented the state of political discourse in the US, saying social-media platforms like Facebook and Google were “shaping our culture in powerful ways”, suggesting that they were compounding the problem. The New-York Times Magazine has a long read about the case against Google. The argument in the article is way more complicated than it look. Should the government step in? The public reaction might be yes but it won’t work. It didn’t work with Microsoft and other cases.  Again and again, conversation seems to come back to Google’s responsibility as such a large, multinational company. Scott Galloway has a great book on the big four: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

It took me a while to become a shareholder. I was really late at the game. I kick myself for lacking the foresights. I use their products every day. What took me so long to become a shareholder? It not a valuation issue either. It’s not cheap but not overvalued in my opinion. I believe the market undervalue Youtube and Alphabet has a lot of cash on its balance sheet. At the moment the future of Google is A.I. and there’s a huge war to get it right.

I enjoyed my visit at Google. It’s definitely a must see if you are in the region.

Here are a few pics from my visit on their campus.

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