Over the past few years, Big Tech firms have begun venturing into new avenues of business outside their core sectors. Part-business survival tactic and part-business expansion, these companies have embarked on diversification journeys nonetheless. With a fast-changing future, and with Industry 4.0 in full swing, they realized that they cannot limit themselves by the industry that earned them their name and stature in the market.
Today, we will be exploring 5 ways search engine giant Google and its parent company Alphabet are diversifying their business.
1. Autonomous vehicles
Originally an Alphabet in-house project that was developed in secret, it spun off from Google’s head company Alphabet in 2016, becoming Waymo. Today, Waymo is one of the leaders in the autonomous vehicle sector, having raised over $3 billion in investments, while its autonomous vehicles have driven 20 million miles on public roads and more than 10 billion miles in computer simulation since 2009. Its rivals include General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW, among others.
Today, Waymo is also partnering with other companies like Volvo and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles to help bring the vision of autonomous taxis to reality, while improving the tech in-house as well.
Alphabet has made major moves in the healthcare sector too – some realistic, some not so much.
Among its notable ventures is Verily, or Verily Life Sciences, an offshoot from X (previously Google X), Alphabet’s “Moonshot Factory” as they call it, which develops radical new technologies to solve some of the world’s hardest problems, often in secret.
Verily is a life sciences research and engineering organization focused on improving healthcare outcomes by applying the latest scientific and technological advances to significant problems in health and biology. ‘Digitization of healthcare’ is the name of the game when it comes to Verily, developing software and hardware solution to help actualize this.
Other technologies Google is exploring include those that allow for AI diagnosis of conditions, an app that can detect kidney failure, and more.
3. Delivery dronesWing, another offshoot of X, is an autonomous delivery drone service aiming to increase access to goods, reduce traffic congestion in cities, and help ease the CO2 emissions attributable to the transportation of goods. Wing is also developing an unmanned traffic management platform that will allow unmanned aircraft to navigate around other drones, manned aircraft, and other obstacles like trees, buildings and power lines.Like Amazon, Google is also investing in delivery drones. Its company,
4. Internet connectivitySomewhat in line with Elon Musk’s dream of bringing the internet to everyone in the world, Google’s project Loon is employing a radical approach to expanding internet connectivity. Instead of trying to extend the internet from the ground, Loon takes to the sky via a network of balloons, traveling along the edge of space, to expand internet connectivity to rural areas, fill coverage gaps, and improve network resilience in the event of a disaster.
Loon partnered with telecom firm Telefonica over many months in 2017 to provide basic Internet connectivity to tens of thousands of people across Peru who were displaced due to extreme rains and flooding.
While Google has surprisingly not shown much interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, this could soon change.
Theta Labs, a blockchain video delivery network, partnered with Google Cloud in May. Google Cloud will serve as the enterprise validator for the company.
“A validator is a foundation of a blockchain network, deciding if a transaction is legit and vouching for that transaction. Without it a decentralized network doesn’t work,” Forbes explains.
Speaking about the partnership, Allen Day, Developer Advocate for Google, said: “We had already made Bitcoin, Ethereum and six other cryptocurrencies’ data available through our public dataset program. This is the next step.”