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Alphabet高管告诉你如何打造下一个谷歌

Tom Huddleston Jr. 2017年11月19日

改变世界的理想与赚钱并不冲突。事实上,后者通常是必不可少的。

没有可以规模化的商业模式,很难改变世界。

在周二于加州拉古纳比奇召开的财富下一代峰会(MPW Next Gen)上,奥比·费尔腾这样说道。费尔腾是Alphabet研发部门X(原名Google X)的高管之一,这个部门诞生了该科技巨头的许多“超前技术”项目。这些雄心勃勃的项目旨在通过尖端科技解决全世界面临的重要问题。其中最值得关注的包括气球项目(Project Loon),该项目希望通过气球为全世界偏远地区提供互联网连接,另外一个项目是谷歌的自动驾驶汽车公司Waymo。

关于Waymo,费尔腾告诉《财富》杂志的高级编辑米哈尔·列弗拉姆,她的团队认为,减少全球交通事故死亡人数的方法之一,是开发无人驾驶技术,使汽车不再需要司机。费尔腾称,这种想法在十年前可能会被认为是“科幻小说”,但现在Waymo正在亚利桑那州的开放道路上测试其无人驾驶叫车服务。她说道:“这令我们激动不已,因为这种事在五年前听起来还是很疯狂的,不可能实现,但现在我们却能在有生之年看到它变成现实。”

但并非Alphabet的所有雄心勃勃的项目,都能取得与Waymo一样的进展,而且这些被公司称作“其他事业”的项目,即核心广告业务以外的业务,仅去年一年便产生了近36亿美元运营损失。所以,列弗拉姆问费尔腾,Alphabet为什么会继续向X投入资金,而不是专注于最近一个季度为公司带来超过240亿美元收入的核心广告业务?

费尔腾说道:“股东在我们身上压下赌注,是因为我们能够开发出新的业务。我们的目标是为Alphabet打造未来可以像谷歌一样庞大的新子公司。”她补充道,这项工作每天都的难度都在增加,因为谷歌本身也在不断发展壮大。

这个终极目标要求费尔腾和她的团队在对新项目进行评估时,需要考虑项目是否有潜力“令世界变得更加美好”,以及其作为一家公司实现增长和维持自身增长的可行性。对于后一个标准,Alphabet的项目通常最终会寻找大型合作伙伴,例如Waymo与Lyft、克莱斯勒(Chrysler)、英特尔(Intel)等公司达成的合作。

费尔腾称,改变世界的理想与赚钱并不冲突。事实上,后者通常是必不可少的。她说道:“一家公司要想解决现实世界中的一些大问题,它必须是可以持续的,否则便无法扩大规模。所以平衡点是找到既能盈利又负有使命的项目。”(财富中文网)

译者:刘进龙/汪皓

It’s hard to change the world without a scalable business model.

That’s what Obi Felten told the crowd at Fortune’s MPW Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Tuesday. Felten is one of the top executives at Alphabet’s research arm, X, formerly known as Google X and birthplace to the tech giant’s “moonshots,” ambitious projects that aim to solve major world problems with cutting edge technology. Notable moonshot projects include Project Loon, which wants to provide internet connectivity to remote areas of the world using balloons, and Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company.

In the case of Waymo, Felten told Fortune senior writer Michal Lev-Ram that her team decided one way to reduce the massive number of global driving deaths would be to remove drivers from the equation by developing autonomous driving technology. That idea might have been considered “science fiction” as recently as a decade ago, Felten said, but now Waymo is testing its driverless ride-hailing service on public roads in Arizona. “That’s really exciting, because something that sounded crazy and unfeasible even five years ago is becoming reality in our lifetime,” Felten said.

However, not all of Alphabet’s ambitious projects make it that far, and what the company calls its “other bets”—anything outside its core advertising business—together accounted for roughly $3.6 billion in operating losses last year alone. So, Lev-Ram asked Felten, why does Alphabet keep pumping money into X rather than focus on the company’s core advertising business that generated more than $24 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter?

“At the end of the day, we are a bet that the shareholders are making on being able to generate new businesses. Our goal is to make new Alphabet companies that one day can be as big as Google,” Felten said, adding that such a job gets harder every day as Google itself grows bigger and bigger.

That ultimate goal requires that Felten and her team evaluate any new project based on its potential to both “make the world a radically better place” as well as its viability as a business that can grow and sustain itself. On the latter front, Alphabet’s projects usually eventually take on major partners, such as Waymo’s pacts with the likes of Lyft, Chrysler, Intel, and others.

The idea of changing the world isn’t at odds with making a buck, Felten said. In fact, the latter is usually necessary. “If you want to solve really large problems in the world, unless it’s a sustainable business, it probably won’t scale,” she said. “So, finding those things where there’s both profit and purpose is sort of our sweet spot.”

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