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Google vs Alphabet: What’s the Difference?

Google and Alphabet logos placed side by side.

Google vs Alphabet: What’s the Difference?

Key Points

  • Google is a search engine and advertising giant, while Alphabet focuses on overseeing a variety of businesses in addition to Google.
  • Google operates underneath Alphabet Inc., with its own CEO and company-wide autonomy.
  • Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from their roles at Google and shifted focus to leading Alphabet Inc.
  • Alphabet has a stronger emphasis on ambitious, innovative projects than Google, known as ‘moonshots’.
  • Google’s journey began in 1998 with Larry Page and Sergey Brin founding the company in a garage in California.
  • Google introduced the PageRank algorithm, which revolutionized search results and propelled the company’s success.
  • Alphabet Inc. was formed in 2015 as a parent company to oversee a conglomerate of businesses, with Google as its largest subsidiary.

The Google vs Alphabet debate has been raging ever since the establishment of Alphabet Inc. in 2015. These two tech companies are easily confused, so it’s about time we set the record straight. What are the differences between Google and Alphabet? Are these two companies actually one and the same? Or are there certain things that set the two apart? Let’s examine all there is to know about both Google and Alphabet below.

Google vs Alphabet: Side By Side Comparison

AspectGoogleAlphabet
FoundedSeptember 4th, 1998October 2nd, 2015
FoundersLarry Page,
Sergey Brin
Larry Page,
Sergey Brin
Key FiguresSundar Pichai (CEO),
Ruth Porat (CFO)
Larry Page (CEO),
Ruth Porat (CFO)
ProductsGoogle Search,
Google Maps,
YouTube,
Android,
Waze,
Nest
Google,
Waymo,
Wing,
Verily,
Calico,
X, Development,
Number of Employees178,000+174,000+
Annual Revenue$279.8 billion (2022)$282.8 billion (2022)
OwnerAlphabet, Inc.Larry Page
Sergey Brin
RoleSubsidiaryParent company
Bangkok, Thailand - October 14, 2015 Man Using Laptop Browsing Google Website
Whereas Google is a popular search engine, Alphabet is a tech conglomerate.

Google vs Alphabet: Key Differences

While Google and Alphabet Inc. are incredibly closely related, they are not the same. There are some key differences that set the two apart. These differences go beyond the simple fact that one is the subsidiary, and the other is the parent company. If you want to know the differences between Google and Alphabet, then it’s crucial to grasp these key distinctions between the two. Let’s break down some of the most pressing differences below.

Primary Focus

Google is a search engine and advertising giant. Its primary focus is on its core tech products and services. This includes Google Search, YouTube, Android, and its slew of advertising platforms. Alphabet, on the other hand, focuses on overseeing a variety of businesses in addition to Google. While Google is its largest subsidiary, Alphabet has a diverse focus beyond this search giant.

Company Structure

In the grand scheme of things, Google operates underneath Alphabet Inc. This means that Google runs more independently than Alphabet, complete with its own CEO and company-wide autonomy. For an illustration of this structure, just look at the financials for both entities. Google’s financial performance is reported separately from Alphabet and its other subsidiaries to help investors understand the difference between the two.

Corporate Leadership

Jumping off this previous point, Google and Alphabet have different forms of leadership. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from their roles at the search engine and appointed a new CEO and CFO in their place. Then, Page and Brin shifted focus to leading Alphabet Inc.

Innovative Projects

Additionally, Alphabet has a stronger emphasis on ambitious, innovative projects than Google. Internally referred to as “moonshots,” these projects aim to tackle significant global challenges through groundbreaking means. Alternatively, Google focuses on projects that innovate its core business structure. This means improvements for Google Maps, YouTube, Wyze, and so on.

Google vs Alphabet: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Google is a tech company known best for its search engine. Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded it in 1998.
  • Alphabet Inc. was formed in 2015 after a restructuring of Google. From this date forward, Alphabet Inc. became the parent company of Google.
  • Alphabet’s diverse ventures go beyond Google to include innovative companies like Waymo, a self-driving car brand, and Verily, a life sciences company.
  • Google’s revenue mainly comes from advertising, while Alphabet profits from this and other investments in various industries beyond Google.
  • Alphabet is committed to “moonshot” projects — ambitious, groundbreaking endeavors that shoot for the stars.

The History of Google

Google in 1999
Google hasn’t changed its search engine’s aesthetic much in the 25 years since its launch.

Google’s journey began in 1998 when two Stanford University Ph.D. students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founded the company in a garage in California. The place where so many tech titans have started, both before and since. Before starting Google, Page and Brin had already developed one other search engine. They called it BackRub, and it served as the basis for the Google we know and use today.

What set Google apart from all the search engines that came before it was its introduction of the PageRank algorithm. This groundbreaking new method for ranking web pages based its search results on pages’ overall significance on the web. This revolutionary new algorithm led to vastly improved search results, quickly launching Google into the stratosphere. Eventually, Google had to move out of the garage and into an office. 

The burgeoning tech company set up shop in Palo Alto. From there, the company’s mission was to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and infinitely useful. This mission fueled its expansion, leading to the introduction or acquisition of several iconic products and services. This included Google Maps, YouTube, Google Chrome, Android, and beyond. Google continues to grow ever larger today — even under its newly formed parent company.

Why Alphabet Was Formed

Alphabet Inc. stock ticker.
Alphabet Inc. was formed in 2015. It still uses “GOOG” and “GOOGL” for its ticker symbols.

Fast forward to 2015, and you’ll find the most significant event in Google’s history since its founding in 1998. Google had grown bigger than ever before, resulting in Page and Brin making a huge decision that completely changed their company from the ground up. Google would be restructured, and a parent company called Alphabet Inc. would be created. This new parent company would oversee a conglomerate of businesses in addition to Google.

With this move, Google became Alphabet’s largest subsidiary. The restructuring allowed Google to act more independently without Page and Brin having to stop exploring diverse technologies and industries. Under Alphabet’s parentage, subsidiaries like Waymo and its self-driving cars, Verily and its life sciences, and DeepMind and its artificial intelligence research have been able to flourish alongside Google.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from their roles at Google following the restructuring. They took on new leadership roles at Alphabet and allowed Sundar Pichai to become Google’s new CEO and Ruth Porat to become the search company’s new CFO. While Google continues to focus on advertising, search technology, cloud computing software, e-commerce, and consumer electronics, Alphabet can invest in other projects that address broader global challenges.

Google vs Alphabet: Points to Remember

  • Google restructured itself in 2015 and Alphabet Inc. was formed as the tech titan’s new parent company.
  • As the parent company, Alphabet oversees various subsidiaries, including Google.
  • Google’s focus is on its search engine, ads, YouTube, Android, and other tech products and services. Alphabet focuses on “moonshot” projects that aim to address global problems through innovative means.
  • Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin now serve on the board of Alphabet Inc. Sundar Pichai and Ruth Porat took their place as heads of Google.
  • While Alphabet presides over Google, Google revenue makes up the vast majority of Alphabet’s earnings.

Google vs Alphabet: Are They the Same?

As we’ve learned, Google and Alphabet are not the same. However, they are very closely related. Google is the largest subsidiary of Alphabet, which means it operates under the larger umbrella of Alphabet Inc. Google primarily focuses on its core tech products like Google Search, YouTube, and Android, which generate a significant portion of Alphabet’s revenue.

Because Alphabet Inc. is a parent company, it oversees a diverse range of businesses and subsidiaries in addition to Google. These subsidiaries explore innovative technologies and industries beyond Google’s main offerings. So, while Google is a major component of Alphabet, Alphabet encompasses a broader spectrum of companies beyond just Google.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Google?

Google is a tech company responsible for owning and operating a variety of products and services. This includes its search engine, YouTube, Android operating system, and online advertising platforms like AdWords and AdSense.

What is Alphabet?

Alphabet Inc. is the parent company of Google and a conglomerate that oversees various subsidiaries and innovative ventures. It was established in 2015 as part of a corporate restructuring to create a more diversified and adaptable organization.

Is Google part of Alphabet?

Yes, Google operates as one of Alphabet’s largest and most prominent subsidiaries. While it maintains its distinct brand and operations, it falls under the umbrella of Alphabet Inc.

How are financials reported with Google and Alphabet?

Google and Alphabet Inc. have separate financial reporting. Google’s financial performance, revenue, and expenses are reported separately from other Alphabet subsidiaries. This allows for transparency and analysis specific to Google’s performance apart from Alphabet’s.

Who leads Google and Alphabet?

Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google and Alphabet, while Ruth Porat works as the CFO for both. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders and former heads of Google, have transitioned to leadership roles on the board at Alphabet Inc.

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