Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) was originally founded as a search engine company in 1998 under the name Google Inc. Since then, Google has become the world's most popular search engine, owning 92% of the global search market.
The company has diversified far beyond search engines in the past two decades. It reorganized in 2015 and created the holding company named Alphabet. The parent holds Google, its largest subsidiary, and a number of other companies. Some of these companies are subsidiaries of Google, while others are separately owned by Alphabet.
- Alphabet, Google's parent company, is a tech giant with a $1.7 trillion market cap.
- While Google is the flagship subsidiary, Alphabet has grown through a series of key acquisitions across the domains of hardware and software.
- Here we look at some of the most prominent companies owned by Alphabet, such as YouTube, Nest, and Waze.
Alphabet: An Overview
Alphabet has become one of the world's largest technology conglomerates, with a market capitalization of $1.75 trillion as of March 10, 2022. The company posted a net income of $76 billion on revenue of $257.6 billion for 2021.
The majority of Alphabet's revenue is generated from advertising. The company offers performance advertising, which allows advertisers to connect with their users with measurable results. It also sells brand advertising, which aims to enhance users' awareness and affinity with brands. Advertising is thus a core part of Alphabet's strategy and has guided many of its acquisition decisions, such as the purchase of DoubleClick in 2008 (see below).
However, Google also generates revenue from other sources, including sales of apps, in-app purchases, hardware, and licensing and service fees, including those received from Google Cloud and other products. The company has made acquisitions to bolster these businesses.
Alphabet is constantly looking for novel technologies that can enrich its portfolio of businesses. Acquiring smaller companies often eliminates emerging rivals, thus reducing competition for Alphabet. This is one reason Alphabet is currently the target of an antitrust lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and eleven state Attorneys General in October 2020.
Below, we look in more detail at seven of the company's major acquisitions. Alphabet does not break out the revenue that these purchases currently contribute to the company, with the exception of YouTube.
- Business type: Cybersecurity
- Acquisition price: $5.4 billion
- Acquisition date (announced—not yet closed): March 8, 2022
Google announced its intent to purchase publicly-traded cybersecurity firm Mandiant, Inc. (MNDT) on March 8, 2022, for $23 per share—roughly $5.4 billion. The company, which focuses on cybersecurity testing and cyber-incident response, will be folded into Google’s cloud computing business to help better secure cloud data.
Mandiant was purchased by FireEye in 2013 for roughly $1 billion. In June 2021, FireEye sold its FireEye branded products business and name to the private equity firm Symphony Technology Group for $1.2 billion—leaving the Mandiant Solutions software business in the publicly-traded company. In October 2021, the company changed its name back to Mandiant.
In February 2022, Microsoft (MSFT) was reportedly interested in buying Mandiant. Google’s $23 per share offer is a 45% premium to where shares traded on Feb. 1, 2022 (prior to the Microsoft news). If the deal closes, it will be the second-largest acquisition in the company's history—behind only Motorola Mobility, which it purchased in 2012 for $12.5 billion. Google expects the deal to close by 2023—assuming it gets shareholder and regulatory approval.
- Business type: Wearable fitness devices and app
- Acquisition price: $2.1 billion
- Acquisition date: Jan. 14, 2021
Fitbit was founded in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman, whose goal was to create a wearable product that leveraged wireless technology to enhance users' health and fitness. The company's products include smartwatches, armband fitness trackers, a digital fitness tracking application, and related gear, accessories, and services.
Google closed the Fitbit buyout in January 2021 after the deal was first announced in November 2019, adding to its wearable-device lineup following its acquisition of the Timex smartwatch technology in 2019.
The deal closed after antitrust regulators in the European Union approved the acquisition with conditions directed at protecting users' health data and preserving competition in the sector for wearable tech. Google stressed that the acquisition is about devices, rather than data, and made commitments that user data would not be used for Google ads.
- Business type: Business intelligence software and data analytics
- Acquisition price: $2.6 billion
- Acquisition date: February 13, 2020
Looker, founded in 2011 by Lloyd Tabb, helps companies to easily extract and analyze data. Most legacy business intelligence systems at the time required users to have engineering and programming expertise in order to extract data and analyze it. Looker simplified the process by taking programming queriesand modifying them to read more like natural languages, such as English. This allowed users to perform data analytics without having to "speak" code.
Google announced its planned buyout of Looker in June 2019. Google finalized its acquisition of Looker in 2020, leveraging its capabilities through the Google Cloud service. At Google Cloud, Looker helps customers accelerate their ability to analyze data, deliver business intelligence, and build data-driven applications.
- Business type: Smart-home products
- Acquisition price: $3.2 billion
- Acquisition date: Jan. 13, 2014
Nest Labs was founded in 2010 by Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Both Fadell and Rogers left their positions at Apple's iPod and iPhone development division to start a technology company aimed at revolutionizing the thermostat: to transform it into a sensor-driven, Wifi-enabled, learning, and programmable device.
In 2014, Google acquired Nest and has since merged it with Google's Home division to create Google Nest, which offers a range of smart home products, including security alarm systems, security cameras, Wifi routers, and home assistance devices.
- Business type: Mobile navigation app
- Acquisition price: $966 million
- Acquisition date: June 11, 2013
Waze was founded in Israel in 2008. The crowd-sourced mobile traffic advisory device and navigation service was acquired five years later by Google, whose own Google Maps app was already seven years old by that time. Acquiring Waze was one way to eliminate competition, but Google also saw Waze's traffic-updating features as novel enhancements to Google Maps.
Google has since been able to monetize the service by selling ad services to businesses, including ads that alert drivers when they are near participating businesses. Waze had over 140 million monthly active users in early 2021—up from 10 million when it was acquired.
- Business type: Ad management and ad serving solutions
- Acquisition price: $3.1 billion
- Acquisition date: March 11, 2008
DoubleClick was founded in 1996 and became one of the stock-market stars of the dot-com era as a leader in the first generation of online advertising during the 1990s. Private equity firm Hellman & Friedman paid $1.1 billion in a "take-private" transaction to become majority owners of the company in 2005.
Google then acquired DoubleClick in 2008 as a way to bolster the analysis and ad-targeting capabilities of its customers. In 2018, Google retired the DoubleClick brand name and folded it into Google's AdWords brand, making Google Ads the central tool for advertisers.
- Business type: Online video-sharing platform
- Acquisition price: $1.65 billion
- Acquisition date: November13, 2006
- YouTube ad revenue (2019): $15.1 billion
YouTube was founded in 2005 by three former PayPal employees who believed that ordinary peopled would enjoy sharing their homemade videos online. By the summer of 2006, YouTube was already offering more than 100 million videos per day. Both technical problems that accompany rapid growth and lack of commercial success prompted YouTube to begin searching for a buyer.
Meanwhile, Google's own video platform, Google Video, which was also launched in 2005, had failed to generate much traffic. Google's acquisition of YouTube in late 2006 gave it a new, powerful video platform. YouTube has grown into a significant source of Alphabet's ad revenue, while also generating revenue through premium and YouTube TV subscriptions. In 2021, YouTube's ad revenue was $28.9 billion.
Google (Alphabet) Diversity and Inclusiveness Transparency
As part of our effort to improve the awareness of the importance of diversity in companies, we have highlighted the transparency of Google's (Alphabet's) commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and social responsibility. The below chart illustrates how Google (Alphabet) reports the diversity of its management and workforce. This shows if Google (Alphabet) discloses data about the diversity of its board of directors, C-Suite, general management, and employees overall, across a variety of markers. We have indicated that transparency with a ✔.
|Google (Alphabet) Diversity & Inclusiveness Reporting|
|Race||Gender||Ability||Veteran Status||Sexual Orientation|
|Board of Directors|
|General Management||✔ (U.S. Only)||✔|
|Employees||✔ (U.S. Only)||✔||✔||✔||✔|