Google and Value: X Labs Explains Money to MBAs

February 17, 2015

I read “Astro Teller, Google’s ‘Captain of Moonshots,’ on Making Profits at Google X.” Interesting. The write up provides me with insight into what I call the “post mobile ad challenge logic” at Google.

The focus of the “article” which is really an interview is that Google is generating value from its moon shot projects. I think of these as Loon balloons and the remarkable un hip Google Glass. You may have your own X Labs’ highlight reel.

Here’s a statement I highlighted:

It would be fair to say Google Brain (now called the Neural Network Project) is producing in value for Google something that would be comparable to the total costs of Google X — just that that one thing we’ve spun out. We’re in commercial discussion with various commercial partners about integrating Loon into other networks. Without getting into specifics, I assure you we are looking at very substantial opportunities for Loon — Google-scale opportunities. I think generally Google feels the return on investment for Google X has been pretty good so far.

Take that you money centric MBAs. The idea of investing a dollar and generating a $1.10 is not germane. X Labs operates in the land of Loon and “pretty good” return on investment.

But where are the specifics? Er, you know, numbers.

There is a similar sentiment about the wildly hyped Google Glass project. But, alas, no reference to the management and interpersonal issues that project ignited.

What did that hack Willie Shakespeare include in Hamlet. Oh, yes, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Yep, methinks.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2015


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