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商业 - 科技

谷歌为何要更名为Alphabet

Adam Lashinsky 2015年08月13日

桑德尔•皮查伊将负责领导公司,而拉里·佩奇将负责追梦。倘若今后Alphabet想要放弃、剥离任何非核心业务或者为其创立新的资本结构,那么这次分家会让以后的事情变得简单。

Alphabet首席执行官拉里·佩奇

    本周一,谷歌令人惊讶地宣布它将更名为Alphabet。乍看上去,这更像是HBO情景喜剧《硅谷》中的情节,而不是真实事件。这个名字就像剧中那家大公司“Hooli”一样二。不过Hooli最终让我们相信,名字虽傻,但它的价值仍可以超过4000亿美元。

    当然,谷歌两位创始人的态度极为严肃。向美国证监会提交申请后,拉里·佩奇和谢尔盖·布林轻松愉快地把他们读研究生时的发明变成了一家财源滚滚的控股公司。谷歌名下保留了那些传统业务,包括搜索、广告、YouTube和安卓,将由桑德尔·皮查伊担任负责人。我曾在今年5月底采访过皮查伊,他给我的印象是有一种巧妙的平衡手腕,领导谷歌高瞻远瞩而不急于向市场要回报。Alphabet则囊括了那些看似荒诞不经的实验,如自动驾驶汽车、Google X、和健康有关的科研,还有像Nest这样不走寻常路的创新,以及两家投资机构。包括经营情况稳定的谷歌在内,Alphabet将由两位创始人和执行董事长、前CEO埃里克·施密特共同掌控。

    这番调整最明显原因是要令公司结构变得一目了然。今年晚些时候,谷歌披露的业绩将分成两块,一块是核心业务,另一块是非核心业务;投资者将更好地体会到前者令人赞叹的实力,以及后者如流水般的支出(周一,《财富》杂志撰稿人艾琳·格里菲斯敏锐地指出,尽管有着众多异想天开的项目,谷歌本质上仍是一家广告公司)。倘若今后Alphabet想要放弃、剥离任何非核心业务或者为其创立新的资本结构,那么这次分家会让以后的事情变得简单。

    另外还有三个因素可能也发挥了作用。

    首先,拉里·佩奇可以重新扮演施密特执掌谷歌时他所喜欢的那个角色,也就是一个手握大权的天才,守着他(拿着高薪)的“成年监护人”。佩奇不想管那么多事,只想把全部精力用在自己的梦想上,而且他在这个领域显然出类拔萃。对此,谁又能责怪他呢?只是这次的情况有所不同。现在,佩奇也是一名成年人,而且他监管的那些成年人里还包括皮查伊。佩奇撰文解释了本次更名行动,并且机智地把自己放在了资产分配者的位置上。在这方面,许多人视沃伦·巴菲为楷模。不过,每位CEO都有配置资产的职责(在谷歌,布林从未充当过要求严格的管理者,他的定位实际上没有变化)。

    其次,通过提拔皮查伊这位既有能力又有可能备受支持的高管,佩奇在人才层面制造了一次积极的多米诺效应。具有商业头脑的早期成员奥米德·柯德斯塔尼多年前曾风光退休,回归没多久又再次成为Alphabet和谷歌的顾问。同时,佩奇还发出了一个强烈信号,以前只有技术高管可以梦想成为谷歌掌舵人。但随着这位负责产品的高管被擢升,而负责经营的高管被撤掉后,这让所有的奋斗者都有了升迁机会,而谷歌也从不缺乏这些努力奋斗的人。

    最大的赢家也许是谷歌资历最浅的高管之一、首席财务官露丝•波拉特,她还成了Alphabet的CFO(佩奇、布林、施密特和负责企业发展的大卫•德拉蒙德都只在Alphabet任职)。谷歌是投资者眼中的金童,但有时会让他们感到失望,他们则极为迫切地期望谷歌提高透明度;刚刚从华尔街跳槽而来的波拉特也许是向谷歌的老经营团队说明这一切的最佳人选。波拉特的大多数职业生涯都在金融行业度过,在那里她一直唱红脸;对于Alphabet今后的投资,波拉特则可能需要大唱白脸。(财富中文网)

    译者:Charlie

    校对:詹妮

    Google’s startling announcement Monday that it will change its name to Alphabet initially seemed more plot turn from the HBO comedy series “Silicon Valley” than real life. Having finally convinced us that a company with a silly name can be worth more than $400-billion, Hooli up and decides it wants an equally meaningless moniker.

    Google’s co-founders are dead serious, of course. With a wave of their collective hand, and a securities filing for proof, Larry Page and Sergey Brin converted their lucrative grad-school invention into a holding company. Google lives as the company’s legacy business, which includes search, advertising, YouTube, and Android. Its boss will be the earnest Sundar Pichai, whom I interviewed in late May as he showed a knack for balancing Google’s ability to aim high without quickly asking for the sale. Alphabet will house the company’s goofier experiments, including its self-driving car, Google X, and health-related investigations as well as more offbeat creations like Nest and two investment arms. Alphabet, which includes Google itself in its stable of businesses, will be run by the co-founders plus executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt.

    The most obvious reason for the shift is clarity. When Google later this year starts reporting two financial segments—core and non-core—investors will have a better sense of the amazing strength of the former and the profligate spending of the latter. (Fortune’s Erin Griffith astutely pointed out Monday that for all its “moonshots,” Google fundamentally remains an advertising company.) Should the future Alphabet decide it wants to ditch, separate, or create new capital structures for any of its non-core businesses, the new division will facilitate matters.

    Three other factors likely are at play.

    First, Larry Page gets to return to the role he enjoyed while Schmidt helmed Google, that of controlling genius watching over his (extremely well compensated) adult supervisor. Who can blame Page for wanting to throttle back on responsibility and devote himself to dreaming, something at which he appears to excel? This time, though, there’s a difference. Page now is the adult overseeing his fellow adults, including Pichai. In an essay explaining the move, Page adroitly has cast himself in the role of asset allocator. Many tip their hat to Warren Buffett as the model here, but allocating assets is the job of every CEO. (Brin never stepped up to a demanding executive role at Google; his status is effectively unchanged.)

    Second, Page sets in motion a positive domino effect of talent moves by promoting Pichai, a capable and potentially woo-able executive. Early business-minded employee Omid Kordestani, who had retired rich years ago, ends his short-lived return by becoming an Alphabet and Google advisor. Page also has sent a powerful internal message that only technical executives need ever dream of running Google. But with the elevation of the top product executive and the removal of the top business executive all sorts of strivers now have an opportunity to ascend, strivers not being in short supply at Google.

    Perhaps the biggest winner here is one of Google newest executives, Ruth Porat, who remains chief financial officer at Google and takes on the same role at Alphabet. (Page, Brin, Schmidt, and corporate development chief David Drummond will toil only for Alphabet.) Newly arrived from Wall Street, Porat would have been in the best position to explain to Google’s long-serving executive team how badly investors want transparency from its sometimes frustrating golden child. Porat may well need to play “bad cop” in the future regarding Alphabet’s investments, yet already she has played “good cop” to the financial industry, where she spent the bulk of her career.

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