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Exploring "Other Bets": A closer look at Google’s emerging tech portfolio

Google has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a 10-blue-link search engine to the USD 1.4 trillion tech empire it is today. More than four billion people use Google products and services daily across multiple platforms like Search, Chrome, Android, Workspace, Maps, Play, and YouTube. Google monetizes them using world-class advertising technologies, generating over USD 250 billion in annual revenue. And let’s not forget Google Cloud, the highly scalable cloud infrastructure solution, which already generates around 10% of Google’s revenue.
What’s next for Google? It is a well-known secret that Google has been testing out a bunch of new technologies across a wide range of industries, which it calls “other bets.'' These include a portfolio of emerging technologies and businesses at various stages of development that could help shape the future. While we are aware of a few of them, including Waymo autonomous vehicles, Wing delivery drones, and the AI-subsidiary DeepMind, for the most part, these activities are kept under wraps. 
We take a closer look at Google’s activities in emerging tech–to unravel the hidden “bets” in the tech giant’s innovation portfolio.

Key takeaways

  • Google’s emerging tech portfolio is dominated by investments. Out of ~700 external activities of the company in the past five years (across ~80 emerging tech industries covered on the SPEEDA Edge platform), 70% were investments, followed by partnerships (27%) and acquisitions (3%).
  • The top five areas of interest were 1) work (16% of all activities), 2) pharma & life sciences (12%), 3) information technology (10%), 4) transportation & logistics (9%), and 5) financial services (8%).
  • Pharma & life sciences and work were the areas with the most investment activity. Google had invested in 47 pharma & life sciences startups (across 84 investment rounds) with precision medicine and AI drug discovery accounting for the most. There were 46 work-related startups that Google had invested in (across 78 rounds), and more than half of them were data infrastructure and analytics companies. 
  • IT and transportation & logistics had the highest number of partnerships, and most were aimed at supporting Google’s in-house activities related to edge computing and autonomous driving. Most IT partnerships were edge computing-related; product collaborations to incorporate edge computing capabilities to Google Cloud and partnerships with network operators to explore edge computing solutions accounted for the most.
  • Most partnerships in transportation & logistics were related to last mile delivery (LMD) automation and truck industry tech. Some notable ones included Google Wing’s partnerships with retailers and logistics providers to carry out drone-based deliveries, collaborations to develop and commercialize autonomous trucks, and agreements with automakers to integrate Google Assistant connectivity into vehicles.
  • Most acquisitions were in work (4), sports & entertainment (3), and security (3). Almost all work-related acquisitions were data infrastructure and analytics startups and were mostly aimed at strengthening Google’s cloud offering and predictive modeling and analytics solutions. All acquisitions in the sports & entertainment space were related to extended reality (XR), while acquisitions in the security space were in next-gen cybersecurity and facial recognition startups. 
  • There has been a notable increase in Google’s external activities in the IT space in the past two years, with growing interest in edge computing and no-code software. Hospitality & travel was the worst affected in the past two years due to slowdowns in activities related to online food delivery and travel tech.

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