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Google Shifts Focus From ‘Moonshots’ to Core Products

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Google has reportedly shifted its focus from “moonshot” projects to core products like its search engine and artificial intelligence (AI) businesses.

This change comes at a time of shrinking budgets and expanding chatter about AI, Bloomberg’s Julia Love told Big Take podcast host Sarah Holder, according to a transcript posted by Bloomberg Monday (May 27).

Google’s special projects-focused lab, called X, was created in 2010 to hire the best people in the world and encourage them to “dream big” on projects like the self-driving car company Waymo, according to the report.

Over the past few years, though, its budget has shrunk and there has been a greater focus on each project having a business plan, the report said. That was especially true when the formation of Alphabet gave investors greater visibility into how the company was spending money.

“I think the other real turning point was the launch of [OpenAI’s] ChatGPT, which really just became, you know, a five-alarm fire for Google and prompted the executives to really focus on the core business and artificial intelligence,” Love said in the report.

There was a sense within Google that the company was falling behind in generative AI and that the technology could be used for search — thereby threatening Google’s core business of search engine advertising, according to the report.

Today, with the firm more focused on search and AI, its X operation is less “top of mind,” per the report.

This shift comes at a time when other tech giants have made similar moves, with Apple stopping its autonomous car project and Meta dialing back some hardware efforts, according to the report.

“It’s an interesting moment for innovation, because I think that you see big tech companies still innovating, but in a very focused way,” Love said in the report.

During Alphabet’s earnings call held in April, CEO Sundar Pichai focused squarely on AI, detailing six main areas where the company is enhancing its AI capabilities while integrating AI across most all of its products and services.

Speaking of the company’s Gemini AI models, Pichai said: “We are well underway with our Gemini era and there’s great momentum across the company.”