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Elephant Gun Loaded and Trigger Finger Itchy, Who Will Google Buy?

Most have focused on two consequences for Google’s restructuring into Alphabet: greater transparency for Wall Street and more effective nurturing of its non-search-related moon shots. A third, more dramatic implication looms.

The point of a holding company structure, such as the one that Google GOOGL +0.29% has adopted, is to control a number of unrelated businesses. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway is a prime example. Berkshire owns dozens of very large, wide-ranging companies, including GEICO (insurance), Burlington Northern (railroads), Sees Candies and Acme Brick. It also has major investments in numerous Fortune-500-sized companies, including American Express, IBM and Coca Cola.

By creating Alphabet, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are declaring their ambitions for businesses beyond Google, Inc., its search business. To succeed, they must make some massive acquisitions.

Acquisitions are necessary because Alphabet’s non-Google units are massive in ambition but de minimis in revenues. It would take years, if not decades, to scale them to more than a rounding error compared to Google’s last quarter sales of $17.7 billion.

For example, Dan Diamond, writing here at FORBES, observed that the restructuring might “spell big things” for Google’s efforts in Healthcare. It will be a long wait, however, because as Diamond noted, “None of those inventions are ready for prime time. They’re probably not even ready for naptime.”

Even Alphabet’s second biggest business, Nest Labs, has to grow by 10x or more, to be material in the Alphabet portfolio. (There’s no simple test for materiality but, in securities law, transactions exceeding 10 to 15 percent of a company’s fixed assets are typically considered material enough to require detailed disclosure.)

Who thinks that Larry Page and Sergey Brin want to wait that long?

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Doing some big deals would be much faster. And, they would be easy to do. Alphabet is sitting on almost $70 billion in cash and a lofty 30+ P/E ratio, and it has an enormous profit generator in Google.

Big acquisitions would take another page from Warren Buffett’s playbook—and Larry Page has said that he views Buffett as a role model. When faced with slowed earnings growth, Buffett embraced acquisitions: