Alphabet or no Alphabet, when it comes to anything beyond its core search and display advertising business, Google’s performance is pretty ‘meh.’
Here’s an interesting news byte: Morgan Stanley estimates that Google has lost between $8 billion and $9 billion on its so-called “side projects.”
So reported the Barron’s blog this past week.
It’s the strongest signal yet that Google’s vaunted business model is spectacularly successful for its core business … but that it’s as ineffective as most other companies when it comes to building the next silver-bullet product or service.
Even Google’s YouTube business unit is likely only a break-even proposition, despite years of concentrated attention, enhancements and tweaking. According to Morgan Stanley’s Brian Nowak:
“We estimate YouTube runs at a 0% profit margin … YouTube’s profitability could [actually] be lower than we estimate, but since it likely varies significantly from quarter to quarter, and until we have more visibility into the business, we believe break-even is a safe assumption.”
It’s likely we wouldn’t have even these clues were it not for the recently announced creation of Alphabet, a new umbrella structure for Google’s various business segments: search, which is an estimated 96%+ of its business volume, and then everything else.
This development is providing more “transparency” that enables investment houses like Morgan Stanley to come up with back-of-the-napkin rough figures like this:
As time goes on, it will be interesting to see if Alphabet can demonstrate that the corporation is more than a one-trick pony.
Regardless of that outcome, the way that Google has cornered a ginormous $60 billion+ chunk of the advertising business is amazing – and laudable. Fair dues on that.