Is Google Trying to Make Alphabet Soup Out of its Company?

By Carl Weiss

After being the big dog of search engines for more than a decade, Google has decided to change its corporate moniker to Alphabet.  After 17 years of building a $400 billion business that controls everything from the world's most popular search engine (Google) to the world's most popular video portal (YouTube), to life extension research firm (Calico), to self-driving car developer and a host of other acquisitions, Larry Page and Sergey Brin have decided to rename their enterprise.  Add to that the fact that CEO Page has turned the reins of Google over to Sundar Pinchai, and many people both in the Internet and on the stock market are wondering what's going to happen next.  Even before the soup has cooled, rumors are swirling that Google is interested in acquiring yet more companies, including everything from Twitter to a company that makes pocket toy satellites.  So if you are wondering if Google intends to make Alphabet Soup of their company, let’s give the pot a stir.

The Best Soup Starts with the Best Ingredients

Courtesy of  wikimedia.org
You’ve got to hand it to Brin and Page.  Ever since they went public in 2004, they have spent their money wisely, although in several cases it didn’t initially look that way.  Remember when they acquired YouTube for a whopping $1.67 billion in 2006?   At the time, a number of pundits thought the deal was questionable at best, being that the fledgling video portal’s only assets were hundreds of thousands of homemade videos and 67 employees.  YouTube had yet to turn a profit and it was questionable whether it ever would.  This was especially poignant since a number of media moguls were threatening the company with copyright-infringement lawsuits. But Brin and Page soldiered on, betting that the public was sure to migrate from TV to online video.  Today, YouTube streams more than 4 billion videos per day, dwarfing the combined output of all the TV stations on the planet.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that in 2014, even with $4 billion in revenues generated (according to the Wall Street Journal), YouTube still stubbornly refused to post a profit.  Still, I doubt it gave the gurus at Google any sleepless nights, since YouTube only represented 6% of the company’s sales last year.  Besides, Google seems to revel in betting on longshots. 


Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
AI is all the rage these days.  Everything from autonomous aerial vehicles to self-driving automobiles relies on artificial intelligence.  There are even experiments in search engine technology powered by AI.  With that in mind, Google acquired AI startup DeepMind for $500 million. What they plan on doing with the technology is anyone’s guess.  The company’s website Says that “DeepMind is a cutting edge artificial intelligence company” to build general-purpose learning algorithms for simulations, e-commerce, and games.  While a number of scientific luminaries, including Stephen Hawking has warned that the creation of artificial intelligence could spell the extinction of the human race, Google’s past experiments with turning AI loose online had decidedly non-life threatening implications.  Earlier this year when Google trained an artificially intelligent network to view photos, the most terrifying thing it did was transmogrify images based upon the tasks it was asked to perform.  For instance, when researchers asked the system what it thought dumbbells looked like, the system created an image that looked like a human arm attached to one.  There were also bizarre transpositions of animal heads on humans and embedded in clouds. Read more about it here in this article from the daily main.

B is for Boston Dynamics

Snap Quiz: What looks like an extra from Star Wars, sounds like a chainsaw, and walks like a Great Dane?  The answer is BigDog, the quadrupedal robot being built by Boston Robotics for DARPA.   Designed to carry more than 300 pounds of gear over rubble, up mountains and through snow and mud, this robot is intended to tote gear for soldiers in the field.  Of course, until the company comes up with a quieter source of locomotion other than what sounds like a 2-stroke engine, this is one doggie that won’t be sneaking up on anybody.  Still, when you consider the technology in BigDog, including stereo vision, LIDAR, gyroscopic stabilization and the ability to climb 35 degree slopes fully laden, maybe if the technology doesn’t work out for the DoD, it can be retrofitted for the US Post Office.
Courtesy of  wikimedia.org

BigDog is only one of nine robots on the Boston Dynamics website. Others include a bipedal humanoid robot named Atlas that competed in the DARPA Robotic Challenge.  Designed for rescue, as well as to enter danger zones where humans fear to tread, Atlas can walk, climb stairs, turn valves, move debris, and even drive a rescue vehicle.  While his utility can’t be beat, what he gains in mobility he more than gives back in the looks department.  Let me put it this way, if you saw him coming to your rescue, you’d probably die of fright.  Speaking of death, this brings us to the next letter in the Google Alphabet.

Can Calico Cure Death?

Can you a blame billionaires for trying to live forever?  Historically speaking, this isn’t a new concept.  Everyone from the first sovereign emperor of China to Conquistador Ponce De Leon have sought immortality.  The difference is that with today’s state-of-the-art biomedical research, it just might be possible.  Consider if you will that only a few years ago, transplantation was considered the creation of Dr. Frankenstein.  Now it is commonplace.  With advances in everything from prosthetics to genetic technology, making life extension a reality isn’t such a stretch.  Still, some people think Larry Page and Sergey Brin have gone off the deep end on this one.  But with a war chest of $45 billion at the ready, if anyone can take a crack at the Grim Reaper, it's Google. Only time and a few billion dollars will tell. (If that doesn’t work, maybe they can figure out a way to transport their mind to a robot like Atlas.)

Google Gizmos Galore

A Lexus RX450h retrofitted by Google for its driverless car fleet
Alphabet will also manage and develop a number of technology gizmos.  Everything from diabetes detecting contact lenses, to a 360 degree virtual reality camera, a solar powered drone startup (Titan Aerospace), a delivery drone called Project Wing, to energy harvesting turbine powered kite called Makani are under development.  There is also a high altitude balloon named Project Loon that purports to be able to provide internet access to people living in remote areas, and Nest, a company devoted to creating smart home products.  Last but not least is Skybox Imaging, another $500 million acquisition that builds microsatellites.

With enough created and acquired companies under management to literally cover every letter in the alphabet, is it any wonder that Google decided to take the name Alphabet for its corporate umbrella?  Ever since returning to the CEO spot at Google in 2011, Larry Page has wrestled with the best way to control his sprawling business empire.  The problem for this dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur is that his priorities were becoming divided.  A quote from Mashable sums it up best:

"Larry was always more excited about big vision projects than the day-to-day grind of running the company," says Bruno Bowden, who helped build Google Earth. "This structure makes those projects and his role far more visible. Wall Street will only care about Google proper and how Sundar is doing. For Larry, this gives him the chance to focus on a broader mandate as he always wanted."

Y is for Why Now?

Although restructuring the growing Google empire is something that many see as inevitable, the question of timing is something that has many scratching their head.  As for whether the name change will hurt or help is something that only time will tell.  From an institutional perspective the announcement of the new name actually caused company stock to jump by 4% the very next week. As Alphabet (nee Google) continues to grow through acquisition, the question is whether changing the name of the parent company will prove a boon to the brand or whether Google will ultimately wind up making alphabet soup out of its conglomerate.

In this article I have discussed how and possibly why Google has decided to changed its corporate name to alphabet  and how this well effect Googles empire as a whole. I go on to list many of Alphabets many corporate entities (alphabetically of course) that they has swallowed over the years and shared many of the interesting projects these divisions are bringing to fruition.
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If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 9/1/15. I recommend checking out "Can Google Cure Death, Disease and Aging?", "Are Google Glasses the Great Game Changer or a Passing Fad?", or "How to Make Google Your Best Friend".  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “Google” in the search box top of this blog.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091,We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results.  Don't forget to Plus us on Goole+ as well. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.


Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.

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How to Safely Whet Your Appetite for Smartphone Apps

By Hector Cisneros

Does the public’s uncontrollable appetite for free smartphone apps also make you vulnerable? Right now there are approximately 4,000,000 apps combined that are available in the top four app stores. Are these apps being checked before being released to the public? Are we vulnerable as users by downloading free apps on our smart phones? Could we be compromising our security and financial information by using these apps? In this episode you will learn the truth about using free apps, how to stay safe, and what to look for when deciding “to get an app for that”. So stay tuned and turn onto this week’s Working The Web To Win and learn “how to safely whet your appetite” for smart phone apps.

What are the Facts?

Courtesy of  statista.com
Back in Mayof 2012 we wrote about how the general public was showing an uncontrollableappetite for smart phone apps. At that time smartphone usage had not eclipsed desktop and Apple was the king of the hill when it came to free app's that you could buy online. Even then, there were already 1 million plus apps available between Apple and Android platforms. There were even a few hundred apps available for other platforms as well (i.e. Blackberry, Microsoft etc…). Today, there are over 4 million app's and as before many are pay to play, but the vast majority of them  are free or what is being deemed " freemium" apps. Freemium apps are app's that have adware tied to them or only include a few free levels. Good examples of these are the infamous "Angry Birds, game series, where you can play have several levels for free, but there are upgrades and other levels for which you have to fork out fees to peruse.

Big Questions Need Real Answers

The big questions we asked in 2011 are still the most important questions that every man, woman and child ought to be asking when they download these so called free apps.  “What's the catch? Are free apps really free? Are they safe? Are we sharing our personal information when we download these apps?”

Courtesy of  Lookout S/W
I know when someone buys an application like Microsoft Office or any other packages, that they never read the ULA (the user licensing agreement). So I have no doubt that when someone downloads a so called “free app", they don't read the ULA either. I would go further to bet that very few even pay attention to the warning screen that shows every user to what resources they're giving the app access.

This is the normal operating procedure for most smartphone users (when downloading free and paid apps online). The majority of the public is asleep at the wheel when it comes to protecting their personal data.  Most have no idea that by downloading and installing most free apps, they are giving the app company free access to all the data on their smart phone. Back in 2012, we and many others rang the alarm to the dangers inherent with downloading free smartphone apps.  Back then the app screening process had many gaps in it, especially on Android platforms. Things got better today.  However, the sheer number of new apps being developed and submitted to the Google Play store and Apple iTunes store is so overwhelming that hackable apps sneak past these stores safeguards.

What's amazing to me is how a couple of years ago people were up in arms about Google’s privacy policy. The same is true about how they felt about Microsoft or any large company collecting and sharing their data. Recently there was a huge uproar about the NSA capturing millions of cell phone texts and conversations, yet billions of people are willing to give up their intimate information to every social media platform on the planet. They will clearly share sexual preferences, political and religious affiliations, without blinking an eye.  These same people will then use these social platforms to log into untested smartphone apps using their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn accounts! To make matters worse, many of these untested apps often ask for, or require access to your profile data, even for access to your friends listed on these social networks. When asked about the need for privacy, most people say they want to keep their privacy, but like I said in my article "The Piracy of Privacy - The Looting of Privacy in America", we lost most of our privacy years ago.
Courtesy of  www.flickr.com

You think you safe because you don't download and use apps? Wrong! If you have friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other major social network, you're vulnerable! This is because your friends do download free apps and if they are compromised, in many cases so is their friends list. This is similar to what has happened to a person's when their computer is compromised.  The hacker bot software hijacks their email system and then sends emails out in your name to all the people in the contact list on that computer. This is an attempt to compromise other system.  The difference here is that this time the hackers are accessing your friends list on one of the major social nets.

A Laissez-faire Attitude Comes with a Price

Needless to say, this laissez-faire attitude can leave you extremely vulnerable to phone hacking or worse, compromising your identity and the security of your financial information. Far from showing any signs of slowing down, identity theft and hacking worldwide is at an all-time high. In fact, we are seeing exponential growth in US for hacking and ID theft.  Hackers today don't use  lots of anti-cypher or code breaker software to guess your passwords - they just gather your information from social media, free apps and all the information most people readily share online. Once they have enough information they can usually guess what they need to know (if you haven't already given it to them on your smartphone).
Courtesy of  www.flickr.com

So how do you protect yourself? What can an average Joe do to not easily fall victim to this onslaught of backdoor sneak attacks via crooked free apps and over shared social information. Well, there is some good news. I have compiled a list of simple security measures you can implement to reduce your risk of being compromised so that you don't lose your identity and financial security. Here is my short list of safeguarding tips you should implement immediately.

Hector The Connectors Security Tips:

  1. If you have a smart device (smartphone or tablet), make sure you have installed an antivirus/malware application on your devices. Install a free one at the very least. I recommend ponying up the small amount needed to purchase one of these apps. This small investment can save you in a big way. (This is always true for your computers as well).
  2. Keep your anti-malware application up-to-date by having it set to auto update. Also scan your device/s frequently. These products also scan free apps that you download. Again the same is true for your computers, especially if you sync your smart phone with it for music and other apps.
  3. You may find that you already own one of these products. My latest smartphone came with the "Lookout" app install on it. I also have a multi user license at the office for TrendMicro that that desktop product also comes with a mobile security protection app.
  4. Never download or buy an application that does not have hundreds of downloads and a high rating. Downloading new app's that have not been vetted by the marketplace is a surefire way to make sure you're on the cutting edge of a hacker’s knife.
  5. If you really like that free app, buy it. Many of the purchased apps limit or eliminate the adware that runs on many smart devices. These ads could be linked to applications that put you at risk to unscrupulous companies or worse, the criminal element who are itching to get at your data.
  6. Limit what you keep on your smart device. If you must keep sensitive information on your smart device because you use it to buy things online, make sure you use either the security features built into your anti-malware applications that encrypt your sensitive data, or you should purchase software that provides this feature for you.
  7. Stay away from questionable ads and the websites they are linked to. You can't blame criminals if they are fishing for your information with risqué ad's show half naked girls promising magical affairs. You're the one who decides that it's OK to click on that kind of ad! By the same token, stay away from offers that seem too good to be true. These ad's that dangling pie in the sky deals are just fishing. So, unless you know for sure that it's coming from a reputable company (one for which you can verify the offer and URL that it's listed on) don't fall for it.
  8. Limit what you share on Facebook and other social networks.  Cyber criminals go out of their way to systematically collect your personal information until that have built a detail profile of who you are, who you're connected with and what your regular behavior is. This information can give them the ability to fool you into giving up more information willingly, by just getting you to fill out a form, accept an email, and yes download an app!
  9. When not using your smart phone, turn off  the wifi and Bluetooth services. This can easily be done by enabling airplane mode. You can still listen to music and even play some games without a wireless connection. It's ok to turn off your phone in the evening when it's charging. No one can compromise a smart device if it’s not connected to the internet.
  10. Buy and use single use credit cards. Also, using programs like Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal can provide additional layers of protection. If you have credit and debit cards make sure they are the new ones with smart chips on them. Insist that your financial institutions provide them to replace to old dumb cards. Minimize the use of your debit cards as well.
  11. Purchase ID protection and check your credit status on a regular basis. You can buy these products from many insurance carriers as well as from your bank and companies like LifeLock.com.
  12. Last but not least, be vigilant, keep up with the news about major hacks, compromised apps and the constant news of security breaches happening on a daily basis. Be smart and make good choices. Most security breaches are self inflicted wounds - not the Herculean efforts of super hackers.
Courtesy of Google Play store

Here is a list of links to the top security product (and their URL) that we feel are worth looking at to protect your smart device.  Many have free trial app's but like I said before, I would purchase one of these and make sure I keep it up to date.

Top Free and Pay to Play Security Apps  on Android

Top Free and Pay to Play Security Apps  for Apple on iTunes
Courtesy of  Apple iTunes Store
In this article I have discussed the problems associated with the public's uncontrollable appetite for downloading "so called" free smart device apps (smart phones and tablets). I have covered the inherent dangers of untested and un-vetted free apps and also address the dangers of how many of these "free apps", capture your profile and contact data from your smart phone, tablets and your social networks. Finally, I provided a list of security tips to help minimize your security risks and a list of security products designed to protect your smart devices.

That's my opinion; I look forward to hearing yours.

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If you’d like to find more articles like this, read, "What Does the Public’s Uncontrollable App-etite Mean to You?",  “Trick or Tweet? The Vulnerabilities Inherent to Twitter and All Social Networks” and “Big Data Comes Wrapped in Big Danger” or enter the words “Hacking or Privacy” in the search box at the top of this blog. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, co-workers and associates. If you have something to add or have a difference of opinion, place them in the Comments section.  It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091,We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. Don't forget to Plus us on Goole+ as well.  If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below. You will gain immediate access to it and as always, your information is always kept private and is never sold.



Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and Social Media Director for the award-winning, Internet-based marketing firm, Working the Web to Win, in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+,  LinkedIn,  and YouTube.  He’s also the co-host of BlogTalkRadio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Working the Web to Win’s co-founder, Carl Weiss, make working the web to win simple for every business. Additionally, Hector is a syndicated writer on Ezine Online and is an active blogger (including ghost writing). He's a published author of two books, "60 Seconds to Success"(available at Amazon and B&N), and "Internet Marketing for the 21st Century," which you can get by filling out the form above. He’s also the co-author of the new book, “Working The Web to Win,” which is now available on Amazon.com.

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Is it Time to Fire the Postman?

By Carl Weiss

As far back as the 19th century, when the telegraph came into vogue, people have been looking for a better way to deliver information and goods more efficiently than the US Postal Service. Today's wired world has created a myriad of electronic delivery systems that do everything from rendering payment, to delivering messages and even packages at the click of a mouse. In today’s blog, I intend to delve into a number of innovative, cost effective delivery options to the USPS, as well as the possibility that in the near future the post office could very well be as dead as the dodo bird.

They Don’t Call it Snail Mail for Nothing

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
The US Postal Service can trace its roots back to the Second Continental Congress in 1775.  That’s when Ben Franklin, a prominent Philadelphia printer, was appointed as the country’s first Postmaster General.  Since that momentous occasion, the USPS staff has mushroomed to 717,254 federal employees, making it one of the nation’s largest employers.  In 2014, the USPS generated $67.8 billion in revenues.  That sounds impressive until you realize that it represented a $5.5 billion operating loss.  This seems odd when you consider the USPS operates a virtual monopoly when it comes to delivering letters.  Stranger still is the fact that the post office has downsized considerably during the past few years, closing a number of offices as well as reducing the hours they are open.  Of course, the USPS is and always has been a bureaucracy.  That explains a lot.

The real problem with the Post Office is that unlike the 19th and first half of the 20th century where it had little if any competition, by the latter part of the 20th century when package and overnight delivery was privatized, the days of the Post Office monopoly was over. But the USPS was still alive and kicking, if at a snail’s pace. (They don’t call it snail mail for nothing.)  Sure, since the late 1800’s people could use the telegraph and telegram to send messages quickly.  But when one considered the fact that Western Union charged by the word, the telegram was more like Twitter than traditional correspondence.  Short copy was the norm.  Then came the Internet. 

We Don’t Need No Stinking Postage

By the mid 1990’s, digital technology such as fax and email began to slowly but surely erode the postal service’s hegemony.  Why wait days to deliver the message when anyone with a phone and a modem could send pages replete with photos across the telephone wires in minutes.  (Today we can do this in seconds, but remember how slow dialup connections once were.)
Courtesy of comons.wikimedia.org

Suddenly you didn’t need to pay for postage to send letters, flyers and ad copy across town or around the world. (Spam was born.)  All it took was type, point and click.  Add to this the fact that within the past few years, most businesses and banks have adopted electronic payment systems that allow customers to remit payment at the click of a mouse and it makes the USPS seem a lot like its predecessor, the Pony Express

Yet the Post Office still plods on. A number of tech companies such as Netflix still rely on the USPS to ship their products, as do a myriad of other advertisers, many of which we regard as junk mail.  However, as competition grows and technology makes much of what the USPS does seem redundant, will there come a time when the public, not to mention the federal government decides it’s time to put the Postal Service out of its misery?  A quote from Wikipedia sums it up nicely:

"Since the 2006 all-time peak mail volume,[5] after which Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act,[6] (which mandated $5.5 billion per year to be paid into an account to fully prefund employee retirement health benefits, a requirement exceeding that of other government and private organizations [7]), revenue dropped sharply due to recession-influenced[8] declining mail volume,[9] prompting the postal service to look to other sources of revenue while cutting costs to reduce its budget deficit.[10] The USPS lost US$5.5 billion in fiscal 2014, and its revenue was US$67.8 billion."

Whoa Nelly! I can hear those telegraph operators of yesteryear crying the blues.  Not only have private shipping concerns such as UPS and FedEx continued to chip away at USPS market share, but other major players such as Amazon want in on the action. (Can you say same-day drone delivery?)  Being that neither timeliness nor cost-effectiveness has never been one of the Post Office’s priorities, as innovative companies continue to reel in more and more of the fish that USPS once had all to itself, at what point will the feds declare it time to abandon ship? 
Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org

In a blog on Fox News, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stated that,
“Amazon delivery drones are still years away, but someday they will be as common as seeing a mail truck. Bezos told the Telegraph in London that the biggest hurdle Prime Air has to clear isn’t related to technology, but regulators.”

Of course, with other bureaucrats such as the FAA, running interference for the Post Office, they might be able to delay the inevitable for a time.  And since the US Postal Service has never been one to innovate since Ben Franklin stepped down from office, far from looking for new sources of revenue, it will face an ever shrinking customer base.  Combined with bureaucratic bloat and an unwillingness to face the fiscal realities of running a business, the sheer cost of running a dysfunctional shipping conglomerate will inevitably spell disaster. (Or, they can simply print an adhesive strip on the back of a $1 bill.)  As with other bygone technologies, the question is not whether the Post Office can survive change, but when will it be time to Fire the Postman? 

In this article I have discussed the US Postal Service and how this massive governmental bureaucracy is not only losing money, it is losing ground as a mail deliver system. The massive losses are causing the public and congress to rethink the USPS's role and whether it should be privatized.

If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 8/18/15. I recommend checking out "How to Stop Sir Spamalot", "How to Avoid Being Caught in an SEO Phishing Netor "Going Postal - With Touch Marketing".  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “email” in the search box top of this blog.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.



Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.

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