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商业 - 科技

谷歌有了新“妈妈”,可它暂时还得靠“儿子”来养活

Erin Griffith 2015年08月12日

谷歌的联合创始人重新给公司命名,试图让公司变回那么酷。但很遗憾,新公司赖以生存的还是一点也不酷的广告业务。

    谁说8月是新闻淡季?美国时间周一(8月10日)下午,谷歌意外宣布了让人匪夷所思的公司重组。这家经营搜索引擎起家的科技巨头将更名为Alphabet,中文直译为“字母表”。

    作为重组的一部分,谷歌的广告业务会成为母公司“字母表”旗下拥有并运营的众多公司之一其他“字母表”经营的业务包括谷歌的宽带服务Fiber、谷歌收购的智能家居公司Nest、谷歌的神秘实验室Google X、两年前谷歌成立的健康研究公司Calico、谷歌的两家投资机构Google Ventures与Google Capital。

    谷歌这么做是在昭告世人,它已经成长壮大,再不是当初那款同名的搜索引擎产品,也不只是后来搜索引擎孕育的那个广告帝国。Alphabet集众多业务于一身,会给予原来谷歌名下各类最新奇、疯狂的项目——无人驾驶汽车、有助于防治糖尿病的隐形眼镜、智能调温器、无人机快递服务、机器人——同等的重视。谷歌绝不仅是搜索引擎。现在,新公司的名字体现了这点。

    不过还有个问题。与谷歌发家业务一脉相承的广告业务还要为上述所有商业探索买单。

    搜索引擎广告是谷歌最初跻身《财富》美国500强前50名的功臣(排名第40位)。实质上,广告业务堪比谷歌的印钞机。谷歌去年89%的营业收入来自广告,其中包括展示性广告和移动端广告。因此,即使为钟爱的新奇探索豪掷千金,谷歌的利润率也高达24%。

    谷歌的联合创始人兼首席执行官拉里·佩奇在公开发表的博客中介绍,在Alphabet内部,“瘦身”的新谷歌会保留所有广告支持的产品,旗下业务有搜索、广告、地图、应用、安卓操作系统及相关的技术基础设施。视频网站YouTube的业务与横幅广告或者搜索引擎广告截然不同,但它还隶属谷歌。

    然而,广告可不是很酷的生意。广告不会让工程师感到兴奋,那些由程序化的算法驱动的广告尤其如此。有一位年轻的工程师曾经这样揶揄谷歌的核心业务:我这代人中最优秀的人才考虑的都是如何吸引用户点击广告,真逊毙了。这段话广为流传。对于那些奇思妙想的项目,谷歌郑重其事投入,令人钦佩。但许多人猜测,这些也不过是谷歌吸引天真的年轻工程师的招募工具。

    在佩奇和Alphabet的总裁、谷歌另一位创始人谢尔盖·布林的眼中,这家公司可能不仅仅是庞大的广告机器。他们也许希望谷歌新的企业形象体现这点。很遗憾,财务数据没有让他们得偿所愿。(财富中文网)

    译者:Pessy

    校对:詹妮

    Who says news is slow in August? On Monday afternoon Google GOOG 4.05% announced a bizarre and surprising reorganization, in which the search engine company has renamed itself “Alphabet.”

    As part of the reorganization, Google, the advertising business, will be one among many businesses owned and operated by Alphabet. The other businesses include Google’s broadband business, Fiber, Nest, Google X, Calico and Google’s investment arms, Google Ventures and Google Capital.

    It’s Google’s way of telling the world that it has outgrown its initial, namesake product, the Google search engine, which in turn begat an advertising behemoth. Alphabet, with its portfolio of activities, lends equal weight to all of the company formerly known as Google’s most out-there moonshot activities. The self-driving cars, the diabetes contact lenses, the smart thermostats, the drone delivery, the robots. Google is more than just a search engine. Now, its name reflects that.

    There’s just one problem with that. Advertising, Google’s original line of business is still paying for it all.

    Search advertising is why Google is a Fortune 50 powerhouse to begin with. (It is number 40 on Fortune’s recently published list.) Google’s ad business practically prints money. Advertising, including display ads and mobile ads, made up 89% of Google’s $66 billion in revenue last year. Even while spending gobs of money on its beloved moonshots, the company enjoyed 24% profit margins.

    Within Alphabet, the new “slimmed-down” (CEO Larry Page’s phrasing in a public blog post) Google will still retain all of its ad-supported products, including search, ads, maps, apps, Android, and the related technical infrastructure. Even video network YouTube, which is a very different business from banner ads or search ads, will stay under the Google segment.

    But advertising is not very cool. Advertising, especially programmatic, algorithm-driven advertising, doesn’t exactly get engineers excited. There’s even a famous quote from a young engineer, deriding Google’s core business: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.” Plenty of people have speculated that Google’s moonshots, while sincere and admirable, are also a cynical recruiting device for wide-eyed young engineers.

    It’s likely that Page and Sergey Brin, his Google co-founder and Alphabet president, see their company as more than a massive advertising machine. They probably wanted Google’s corporate identity to reflect that. Too bad the numbers don’t.

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