It is Christmas Eve and millions of kids around the world are waiting to see what is underneath their Christmas tree. In an effort to keep up with the Christmas cheer, Google has released an app that allows for kids to track where Santa is in real-time.
By visiting SantaTracker, kids can see where Santa left and where he is going to next.
It is hard to believe, but Google is a company going through a massive reorganization. The changes started with the announcement in August 2015 that ownership would be transferred to a holding company called Alphabet and has continued unabated since then.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google CFO, Ruth Porat, is the driving force behind the company’s transformation. The goal is the simplify management structures and to help the company get more disciplined. However, some company insiders have bemoaned the loss of ‘freedom’.
While the establishment of a holding company was the first public step, there have been several internal initiatives to rationalize the diverse projects under the Google banner. This includes the company’s test laboratories which are simultaneously working on Artificial Intelligence (Deep Mind) and autonomous vehicles (Waymo). The latter is reportedly in talks with Japanese automaker Honda to share its technology for next-generation cars.
Granted, customers have not really notices the changes – at least not yet. But as time passes it is likely that subtle differences in branding or product placement could creep into the mix. Industry experts believe this is most likely to be noticed in the company’s mobile phone until as it seeks to differentiate its Android operating system from search and other functions.
Part of the reason might be to evade potential antitrust investigations in the U.S. and Europe. Especially as the company grows to dominate just about every aspect of life online. However, another part of the reason is that the company was just becoming too big to effectively manage.
In fact, many of Google’s ‘project managers’ are managing what amounts to major corporations in their own right. This creates a challenge for Google’s senior management as they need to allow these managers the flexibility needed manage the inherent complexity in each project while keeping the same managers satisfied with the career prospects. Not an easy task in Silicon Valley where the battle for talent at all levels shows no sign of letting up.
An advantage is that a reorganized Google is better suited to target certain niche. This includes planned upgrades to its office productivity package dubbed ‘G-Suite’ or its cloud offerings. Combined, these offering are a challenge to Microsoft’s Office/Office 365 offerings – an area where Google hopes to gain share.
While it is too early to tell whether Google’s transformation is complete it is certain that the changes are having a profound impact on the company. Not only in its day-to-day operations, but also in how it develops and brings new products to market.
Shares of Google’s parent company Alphabet has responded well to the changes and have trend up for most of the year, closing at $807.80 on subdued trading before Christmas.