Google Q4: Rather cloudy, with periods of regulation

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When Sundar Pichai became CEO of Google in 2015, the search giant earned around $16 billion on around $75 billion in revenue.

After six years in the ‘captain’s seat’, the $1.9 trillion ship he pilots is not only 5 times bigger, but the parent company now known as Alphabet just banked $75 billion. in net income on $257 billion in revenue for the year ending December 31.

“I just find that the news world is just continuing to grow and it’s becoming more and more multimodal,” Pichai told analysts and investors who tuned in to the Q4 and 2019 webcast. the company’s full year on Tuesday (February 1), which was conveniently streamed on its YouTube property.

“Just as we made the leap from text to images, thinking of video, audio, embedding it and then sending it back to users, whether they’re typing, talking or watching something and wanting a response” , Pichai postulated, “This is the journey between AI and research and we will continue to do so.”

head in the cloud

If this all seems a little “out there”, it might be because Google – like rival Microsoft – is literally spending more time than ever with its “head in the cloud” so to speak, IT division at which has just seen growing demand for enterprise IT upgrades and digital connectivity drives the unit’s revenue up 45% for the quarter and increases its backlog to the equivalent of 2.5 years .

“We saw over 80% growth in total transaction volume for Google Cloud Platform and over 65% growth in transactions over $1 billion,” Pichai said of the side. small but fastest growing of the Alphabet empire.

The other side of the franchise, the vaguely named compartment of Google Services, which is 12 times larger than the cloud and contains everything from ads to Android, Chrome, Maps, Play, Search and YouTube, has established its own record, with fourth-quarter revenue up 31% to more than $69 billion.

The emerging integration of search, ads and location was particularly exciting for the holiday season quarter, with the company highlighting that map-assisted queries for “gifts near me” increased by 70 %, as consumers increasingly wanted to know if the item they were looking for was in stock at a local store and selling for a good price.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; The future of retail is omnichannel,” Chief Commercial Officer Philipp Schindler said on the call, while expressing his intention to further invest in new features and next-gen experiences that benefit merchants and shoppers alike. .

“People increasingly want to know what’s available nearby before they get to the store,” Schindler added.

In short, from live shopping events with brands like Walmart and Target to the increasing insertion of product feeds into global video campaigns, Google’s retail offering has still plenty of room to grow, especially in its rapidly growing new response to TikTok. , YouTube shorts.

“Again, it’s early days, but I find the opportunity in this space quite broad and exciting,” he said.

An eye on Washington

To be sure, there have been plenty of moments when Google has taken a victory lap, whether it’s for its role in supporting the world’s economic recovery or the fact that almost a third of small business owners said that without digital tools, they would have had to shut down their business during the pandemic.

That said, the success and ubiquity of Google and its many brands and services is, of course, the very reason it faces antitrust regulatory investigations in the United States and abroad.

While Pichai said Google has always been constructive and open to “reasonably updated regulations” that don’t impede the societal benefits of technology, the company is clearly on guard.

“There are areas where we are really concerned that they (the regulators) will break a wide range of popular services that we provide to our users,” the 49-year-old CEO said without giving details. Not only is American competitiveness threatened because of disadvantageous American companies, but Pichai said unintended consequences are also a threat.

“We are very concerned about the impact on local small businesses and retailers and their customers,” Pichai said, “But that said, we are committed to addressing it constructively…in a way that is beneficial to society.. So we urge Congress to take the time to consider unintended consequences, and I think we will remain focused on creating great products for our users.

See also: Lawsuit says Google is paying Apple to stay out of internet search market

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