Google Moonshots Not the Story

Steve Kanaval |

The core business at (Google) Alphabet (GOOG) is still one of the greatest businesses in history, and vaulted the company to the top spot becoming the most valuable company in the world and one that continues to reshape our lives. Most media gets excited about "Moonshots" which encompasses self-driving cars, space flight, and far flung ideas that a company like Alphabet can invest in, while others cannot, but the real story is the consistency of their core business and how profitable it is.

I recall first looking at Google after they went public at the turn of the century, and the thing that struck me were the founders and how Bill Gates-like they were, how Steve Jobs-like they were with their renegade belief in what they were doing. This was evidenced when I looked that the founders had adjusted the share count (how many shares released to the public during the IPO), so it matched a mathematical algorithm many programmers would understand.

Normally, the share count is a round number, a whole number, but not for Sergey Brin and Larry Page, they had this odd, repeating prime number that would get the attention of the nerd world proclaiming, we really do know what were talking about here!

In the early part of this century, the world was not convinced that Google search would become the most ubiquitous term in American business. The Google boys knew exactly what they were doing and soon the rest of the world would know the same.

When the company made a recent shift to change the name from Google to Alphabet what this did was break down reporting requirements on the core business, while at the same time offering more detailed information on the smaller businesses Larry and Sergey wanted to be in for the good of mankind. This business philanthropy was a risk because potentially it would expose wasted spending on "Moonshot" projects. But like in the initial IPO, the founders demonstrated that they are not only great at running the core business, but they are excellent at managing the internal incubator as well, these internal projects keep the creativity at the highest levels, but are clearly funded by the profits from the Google Search juggernaut.

It seems counter productive to discuss that the share price for Google, but the important observation is the perch they hold as the most valuable company in the world replacing Apple (AAPL), which has morphed into a consumer electronics company. Look on your desk or pocketbook and you will find an Apple product, but if you do not have an iPod or iPad you have an Android-based Google platform which competes mightily.

In an age where "software is eating the world," Google is the lead dog at the front of the pack and allowing analysts to drill down into the moonshots was a smart thing. Sergey and Larry knew this back when they came public, and they know it today.

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