December 4, 2019 / 9:14 AM / 9 days ago

Corrected: Alphabet's 'Other bets' in focus as Google's Pichai takes helm

(Corrects company name to Makani Technologies LLC from Makani Power in paragraph 18)

FILE PHOTO: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during signing ceremony committing Google to help expand information technology education at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, U.S. October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Brandon Wade/File Photo

(Reuters) - Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai will replace Larry Page as CEO of parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), heralding a new chapter for the company that helped reshape the global tech industry under its co-founders Page and Sergey Brin.

To grow beyond its main search and advertising business, Google restructured in 2015 and established Alphabet as a holding company overseeing various “other bets”, ranging from its autonomous vehicle unit to helium balloons that provide solar-powered internet services in remote areas.

Below are some of those projects.

X

Known as Alphabet’s “Moonshot Factory”, X is a research and development unit that acts as a nursery for the company’s many offshoot projects, such as Waymo, Wing, Makani, Loon and others, helping them take root as viable separate entities.

WAYMO

Begun as Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo has become one of the most advanced autonomous vehicle technology firms.

In December 2018, it launched the first commercial automated ride-hailing service of its size among the main U.S. companies vying to dominate the nascent market.

It is now offering fully automated “rider-only” services to early users in Phoenix, Arizona, as it looks beyond the robo-taxi business to generate future revenue.

LOON

Incubated in Google’s research lab in 2011, Loon was spun out as an Alphabet subsidiary in July 2018.

It aims to bring connectivity to remote parts of the world by floating solar-powered networking gear over areas where cell towers would be too expensive to build.

Its tennis-court-sized helium balloons have demonstrated utility. Over the last three years, Loon successfully let wireless carriers in Peru and Puerto Rico use balloons for free to supplant cell phone towers downed by natural disasters.

But the lifespan of the balloons is only around five months because the plastic degrades. Their presence has also generated safety concerns from some aviation authorities.

WING AVIATION

Wing is Alphabet’s delivery service using specialized drones, beginning commercial air delivery services this year in Canberra, Australia, and Helsinki, Finland.

In the United States in September, Wing partnered with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O) and FedEx Corp (FDX.N) to start U.S. deliveries from October.

MAKANI TECHNOLOGIES LLC

Makani attempts to harness renewable energy from wind by using propellers on airborne kites to generate electricity.

It joined the Moonshot Factory in 2013 and spun out this year to become an independent unit within Alphabet, partnering with Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.AS) to build commercial versions of its kites, according to Makani’s website.

VERILY

Verily is Alphabet’s life science tech unit that works on machine learning and wearable devices for a wide range of healthcare scenarios.

It partners with several pharma companies for research on such projects as surgical robots and retina scan technology for early detection of some eye diseases.

SIDEWALK LABS

Sidewalk Labs provides sensor-based urban technology to manage crowds and vehicular traffic.

It is working on a project to develop a futuristic smart city in Toronto that includes self-driving garbage cans and infrared sensors to track foot traffic in stores.

CAPITALG

CapitalG, formerly Google Capital, is Alphabet’s private equity fund primarily focused on backing new tech ventures.

It has invested in such companies as ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc (LYFT.O), stock trading app Robinhood and short-term home rental firm Airbnb Inc.

GV

GV was founded as Google Ventures in 2009 before it spun off as a venture capital investment unit under Alphabet. Based in New York, the firm has funded over 400 companies in the life sciences, consumer and technology sectors.

DEEPMIND

Acquired by Google in 2014, DeepMind is a UK-based unit taking on research projects that mostly deal with artificial intelligence.

Founded in London in 2012, DeepMind uses general-purpose learning algorithms for applications such as simulations, e-commerce and games.

CALICO

Another health-related venture, Calico focuses on research and development of methods to cure life-threatening diseases, and tackling problems affecting mental and physical agility due to aging.

ACCESS

Headed by former Time Warner Cable executive Dinesh Jain, Access is an internet services unit providing high speed internet services in several U.S. locations.

Reporting by Akshay Balan and Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Tom Hogue

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