Most of Alphabet’s revenue is generated through Google, the global search giant whose brand value reached 309 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. According to Alphabet, the Google segment includes the company’s main products, such as “ads, Android, Chrome, hardware, Google Cloud, Google Maps, Google Play, Search, and YouTube.” In 2019, these avenues generated revenue of approximately 160.74 million U.S. dollars and thereby accounted for over 99 percent of Alphabet’s total annual revenue. But while Google remains the company’s key business and most relevant revenue stream, Alphabet also regulates a diverse portfolio of other subsidiaries. Collectively listed as Other Bets, this operating segment spans an array of industries, from robotics and transportation to healthcare, life sciences, and anti-aging. As these products and technologies are mostly unrelated to Google’s core business, they were separated from the powerhouse’s primary operations in 2015 and contained under the roof of Alphabet instead. By doing so, Google wanted to narrow the company’s business scope and create a sufficient scale of management. Revenue from other bets has been increasing since 2017, albeit at a comparatively low pace.
Many of Alphabet’s subsidiaries include earlier stage technologies that are striving for innovation but also require a long-term view geared at long-term returns. Some of the segment’s main drivers of growth include health-tech firm Verily, Alphabet’s healthcare and disease prevention research unit, and autonomous vehicle technology firm Waymo. To fuel the development and success of its emerging businesses, the parent company spent over 26 billion U.S. dollars on research and development in 2019. Concurrently, Alphabet ranked among the leading patent owners in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as autonomous driving.
Another crucial line of expenditure is allocated to lobbying the United States government. In 2019, Alphabet rounded out the top three internet lobbying spenders in the U.S., having spent around 12.54 million U.S. dollars on lobbying activities that year. While this figure was significantly lower than the company record of 2018, it still played a crucial part in the tech heavyweight’s ongoing fight against wide-ranging scrutiny into its practices. In recent years, lawmakers and regulators have increasingly weighed new antitrust and privacy rules to moderate the power of large internet service providers like Google and, ergo, Alphabet. As one of the most outspoken politicians on the issue, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has repeatedly called for a breakup of big tech companies. As Google’s parent company was aptly named after the Latin term for “investment above benchmark” by their own accounts, its future advancements will undoubtedly remain in the focus of public and political attention and criticism for years to come.