Google’s “Other Bets”

I’m using the day to catch up on a bunch of reading. I came across this story about Alphabet’s Waymo division hitting another milestone – they’re now the first company to charge passengers money for an automated taxi service on the streets of the real world. Reuters says a 15 minute / 3 mile ride will cost the select group of riders invited to try their app approximately $7. They’ve been developing the technology to do this for ten years now and have driven millions of miles on the roads of Arizona, California, etc.

And now they’re beginning to commercialize, beating Uber and GM’s Cruise unit to the punch.

You can read about it here:

Waymo unveils self-driving taxi service in Arizona for paying customers (Reuters)

I asked my followers about driverless cars this morning in a poll. Here was the their response to the question of whether a baby born next year will have a need for driving:

My kids are 12 and 9 – as teenagers in a few years, would I be more comfortable allowing them to be in a teenage friend’s car, in an automated taxi operated by Waymo without a human driver, or with a stranger who is driving with Uber as a contractor? Or, none of the above, hang on kids I’ll get my shoes on and drive you…

Speaking of Alphabet, there was a story about one of the company’s other initiatives that it classifies as “Google X” or “Other Bets” – a drone delivery service known as Wing. The idea of using unmanned miniature aircraft to drop deliveries of food, medicine and other materials is something that Amazon is also hard at work on, but not many people realize Alphabet is also going to be a player there. Wing has been in development for six years at Alphabet.

18 months ago the company began testing its service in remote areas of Australia, bringing Ben & Jerry’s ice cream pints to koala bears or some shit, I don’t know.

You can watch their video here:

This week Wing announced its launch into Finland. You can read more about it at their official site.

Alphabet’s stock has been bruised and beaten in the last couple of months just like the rest of the technology sector, but investors thinking beyond the current cycle and far into the future have no shortage of projects to be excited about.

Full disclosure, I own some shares of Alphabet stock, for a long time, and clients in our strategies will have exposure to GOOGL given the size of its market cap and prevalence in funds and indices. 

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