- Google is owned by another company, Alphabet.
- Alphabet holds other companies, including venture capital firms.
- Alphabet’s other companies aren’t public, but you can invest in similar companies that are.
One of the few companies to be popularized as a verb, Google is known around the world as the place to go when you’re looking for answers. But Google, the company, is much more than a search engine.
In fact, Google itself is actually owned by a parent company known as Alphabet. Under the Alphabet banner, numerous other companies co-exist, ranging from venture capital firms to messaging services and even a self-driving car division. Here’s a list of just some of the private businesses owned by Google parent company Alphabet, along with comparable stocks you can buy today.
Click to read about the Google founders’ unbelievable net worths.
Alphabet: GOOG or GOOGL
The only way to own the whole enterprise under the Alphabet/Google banner is to buy the stock of the parent company. Originally, the entire company itself was named Google, but even when renamed Alphabet, the company kept its stock symbols of GOOGL — for people who want voting rights with their stock — and GOOG. As of Sept. 11, 2018, GOOG traded at about $1,177 per share and had gained over 12 percent for the year. If you buy shares of Alphabet, you’ll indirectly own all of the company divisions listed here.
Self-Driving Car Division: Waymo
Comparable Public Company: Tesla (TSLA)
Self-driving cars seem to be the way of the future. Google developed a self-driving car project way back in 2009, and today Google company Waymo drives over 25,000 miles per day.
The most visible competitor company to Waymo that investors can already purchase is Tesla. Run by Elon Musk, TSLA is a volatile stock that closed at $279.44 on Sept. 11, down over 10 percent on a YTD basis. However, TSLA is considered an innovator in the space, and its stock has had big gains in the past, including a 344.14 percent jump in 2013 alone.
Related: How Much Is Tesla Worth?
Data Storage Division: Drive
Comparable Public Company: Dropbox (DBX)
Google Drive was one of the innovators when it comes to cloud storage. Through features like Google Docs and Google Sheets, you can store almost any type of file you’d like, from documents and spreadsheets to photos, and access them anywhere you have internet. You can also share or transfer files via the cloud.
In 2018, one of the main competitors to Google Drive, Dropbox, went public under the symbol DBX. Shares of DBX were hot right out of the gate, closing at $28.42 on its first day of trading after being priced at just $21. Since then, the stock has bounced around, settling at $26.97 as of Sept. 11.
Flight Search Division: Flights
Comparable Public Company: Booking Holdings (BKNG)
Google Flights is an Alphabet company designed to help consumers scan all available airfare information to make the right purchase. In addition to providing fares between cities, Google Flights can also track fares and send notifications when prices have changed. Unfortunately, as part of Alphabet, you can’t buy shares in Google Flights directly.
One of the most well-known flight search competitors for Google is Kayak. Kayak is not an independently traded company, but it’s part of the much larger travel services business Booking Holdings. Booking Holdings owns numerous well-known brands, including Booking.com, Agoda, Rentalcars.com and Priceline. In fact, the entire company used to be known as Priceline until a switch in 2018.
Venture Capital Divisions: CapitalG, Gradient Ventures, GV
Comparable Public Company: The Blackstone Group L.P. (BX)
Venture capital is a high-stakes, high-reward game. It involves investing risk capital into speculative start-up companies, hoping they will survive and thrive. You’ll find no fewer than three separate venture capital firms under the Alphabet banner: CapitalG, Gradient Ventures and GV.
GV, known as Google Ventures when launched in 2009, invests in early-stage start-up companies. One of GV’s early investments was Uber, which remains private but is expected to go public by the end of 2019.
CapitalG, formerly known as Google Capital, is a later-stage VC company founded in 2013. It invests in growth start-ups such as Robinhood, Airbnb, and Lyft.
Alphabet’s newest VC arm, Gradient Ventures, was founded in 2017. It focuses on AI-based startups, such as Algorithmia and Cape Aerial Telepresence.
Although you can’t invest directly in any of these venture capital divisions, or the companies they own, you can buy a successful, publicly traded private equity firm in the form of The Blackstone Group L.P. Trading under the stock symbol BX, Blackstone has returned over 12 percent per year on average for investors over the past 10 years. In 2018 alone, the stock has posted a gain over 16 percent, closing at $35.90 on Sept. 10.
Mobile Phone Network Division: Project Fi
Comparable Public Company: AT&T (T)
In addition to its well-known operating system for smartphones, Android, Google also has its own mobile phone service, Project Fi. Technically, Google doesn’t own a phone network. However, it offers the technology to give you phone service over either a WiFi connection or one of three 4G LTE networks. You can get unlimited talk and text domestically through Project Fi for just $20, with data costing $10 per gigabyte. Project Fi partners with legacy carriers Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to provide service.
The most dominant competitor to Project Fi that you can invest in publicly is AT&T, which in 2018 was named the most admired telecommunications company in Fortune’s Most Admired Companies List for the fourth year in a row. The stock, trading under symbol T, hasn’t done much in recent years, falling over 12 percent so far in 2018 alone. As of Sept. 11, the stock closed at $32.67.
More Google News: Google Supports Over 2.5M Veteran-Owned Businesses With New Feature
Chat/Messaging Division: Hangouts
Comparable Public Company: Facebook (FB)
Although there will likely always be a need to place phone calls, chat and messaging have become big business. Google has its own messaging service, known as Hangouts, but it has yet to become its own public company.
In the meantime, you can invest directly in industry heavyweight Facebook to get access to the dominant players in chat and messaging. In addition to its own Facebook Messenger, which is the second-largest chat app in the world as of July 2018, according to Statista, Facebook also owns WhatsApp. WhatsApp isn’t as well-known in the U.S., but globally it ranks as the No. 1 messaging service, with over 1.5 billion users worldwide. Facebook has been an excellent stock for investors to own over the long-haul, returning nearly 30 percent per year for investors for each of the last five years. After a recent sell-off, FB shares might be offering investors an attractive entry point. At a closing price of $165.94 on Sept. 11, the shares are down over 25 percent from their 52-week high.
Click to find out what $10,000 in stocks invested in 10 years ago would be worth today.
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