Softbank Buying Google’s Robot Company

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Japanese telecom company Softbank (the 62nd largest public company in the world) is buying Boston Dynamics from Alphabet (Google’s parent company). Softbank also got Japanese bipedal robotics company Schaft as part of the deal.

Details of the deal weren’t published.

Google bought Boston Dynamics in 2013 but put it back up for sale again last year. There were questions about what Google could really make of the venture, and also there were questions about the effect giant metal dog-like robots, which might find applications in warlike settings, would have on the image of Google.

Japan is a country that has publicly made it known that they will not look to immigration to add labor to support their aging population of baby boomers. They will instead look to robots.

Alphabet’s (GOOG) 2017 Q1 Earnings Call

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Alphabet’s exec Ruth Porat spoke on a conference call this week about the company’s Q1:

“Our revenues of $24.8 billion in the first quarter demonstrate our broad-based strength globally, with revenues up 22% year on year. In constant currency, our consolidated revenues grew 24% versus 1Q 2016. Growth in advertising revenues was again driven by mobile search, with ongoing strength in YouTube and programmatic. We also had substantial growth in other revenues from Play, hardware, and Cloud. … We realized a negative currency impact on our revenues year over year of $304 million or $87 million after the benefit of our hedging program.”

Google Exec Makes $200m for the Year

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Now that Google is a sub-company inside Alphabet — which is run by founders Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin and Larry Page — Google is run by Sundar Pichai, and his earnings are up almost double from 2015.

In 2016, he made $199.7m. $650k is his base pay, and $198.7m was a stock award.

Google is reportedly more profitable under Pichai. It has boosted sales from its core advertising and YouTube business, and is working on cloud computing, machine learning, and hardware, including smartphones, VR headsets, routers, and smart speakers.

Alphabet is growing. GOOG’s stock rose above a $600b market cap this week for the first time.

Google Exec Considering Internet ‘Hate-Checker’

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Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt is considering using technology to filter out internet content it checks for “hate and harassment”

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc (formerly called Google), published an opinion piece for the New York Times in which he expressed his thoughts on “the raw reality of the internet,” writing that Google “should build tools to de-escalate tensions on social media — sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment.”

Schmidt was writing in the context of comparing authoritarian governments with those of freer nations. “It’s our responsibility to demonstrate that stability and free expression go hand in hand,” Schmidt wrote.

He specified that the first to be targeted for hate-and-harassment-speech censorship should be social accounts for Islamic State and similar terrorist organizations.

He also said the technology he envisioned would “help those countering terrorist messages to find their voice.”

He cited “empowerment of the wrong people, and the wrong voices” in addition to “further degradation of poorly built societies” as important focus points for using the suggested tools.

Schmidt continued that “drowning out hate” was “within our reach.

“It’s up to us to make sure that when the young girl reading this in Indonesia on her tablet moves on from this page,” concluded Schmidt, “the Web that awaits her is a safe and vibrant place, free from coercion and conformity.”

By James Haleavy


Alphabet, New Parent Organization Will Handle A To Z At Google

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As part of Google’s stated ambition to “do more,” co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin have announced they will be restructuring under the umbrella of Alphabet, Inc., a new parent company that will encompass Google and all other Page and Brin projects.

Current Google CEO Page wrote in a blog Monday that in addition to having bigger “crazy” plans, the co-founders intended to make their company “cleaner and more accountable.”

Page will be CEO at Alphabet, and Brin will be president.

In Monday’s blog, Page mentioned some of the projects Alphabet will be focusing on, including a glucose-sensing contact lens and a lifespan controlling project called Calico.

The need for something above Google, Page wrote, was one of larger management capacity.

The new model for the company involves strong CEOs independently directing each business under Alphabet. Page and Brin will handle allocation of the capital that will support each branch.

Replacing Page as CEO of Google, which Page says will remain the largest part of Alphabet, although “slimmed down,” will be Sundar Pichai, who had previously been handling Internet product and engineering at Google.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, will remain in place, Page said in the blog.

By James Haleavy