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Health & Science

Alphabet Is Now The Parent Company Of Google

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Google is no longer just one company. Yesterday, founder Larry Page announced in a blog post that Google is breaking up into smaller pieces, pieces that can be, in his words, more ambitious. And this new entity has a new name - Alphabet Inc. NPR's Aarti Shahani explains.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: With Alphabet, you could say, the writing was on the wall. Let's go back to 1998, the year Google was founded.

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LARRY PAGE: We talked to a couple of different people - like four people or something like that - and all the people we talked to were willing to give us money.

SHAHANI: That's a young Larry Page in a TV interview, alongside his co-founder Sergey Brin, who recalled one specific investor.

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SERGEY BRIN: So he said, you know, I don't want you guys to have to, you know, take too low a valuation or to have to worry too much about these money things right now. Why don't I just write you a check?

SHAHANI: And the guy wrote them a check for $100,000 before they even had a bank account. It's a critical lesson in Google's founding story - great ideas need cash, lots of it, fast - even if the idea sounds out there, like in 2000 when Sergey Brin was giving a speech in New York about the so-called mobile revolution.

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BRIN: Has anyone here used Google on a mobile phone?

SHAHANI: Back when most people didn't have mobile phones, Google had a small research team working on tools to search by voice command.

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BRIN: So you can navigate the entire web using speech, fill out forms, do all of those things, and, you know, it's going take engineering, but it will happen.

SHAHANI: Lesson number two - futuristic technology is not just fantasy. Alphabet Inc. combines these lessons. It's the umbrella for a bunch of standalone companies with ideas that are, in Page's words, pretty far afield - like contact lenses that read blood-glucose levels, cars that drive themselves, drones that deliver mail. Page is CEO, Brin is president, and they oversee the new division chiefs, write the checks and demand results. The new chief of Google is Sundar Pichai.

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SUNDAR PICHAI: Everything we do, we do it at a global scale.

SHAHANI: That's Pichai speaking a few months back at a conference in Spain. His new job is to oversee a slimmed-down Google, which includes Chrome, YouTube, Android, the Play Store, Search - basically every Google product you use.

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PICHAI: At Google, when we focus on problems, we want to work on things which make a difference in people's lives on a day-to-day basis.

SHAHANI: And make sure investors are happy with the results - financial results that is. Google shares will convert to Alphabet shares and continue trading on NASDAQ. Aarti Shahani, NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.