Craig Barrat was previously Google’s SVP of “access and energy,” but now he leads an Alphabet unit as CEO. That unit is called Access and Energy, and includes Google’s Fiber division as well as several other access and energy-related products (as Google’s Ruth Porat noted in its Q3 2015 earnings call). Now, thanks to an extensive profile of Access today out of Re/code, we have a little bit more of an idea of exactly which projects fall under this group…
As of today, the group includes Google Fiber (which is perhaps one of the most established businesses outside of the Google branch itself), OnHub (the router that Google sells in its Google Store, Project Link (bringing Fiber to “emerging markets”), a partnership with RailTel (to bring WiFi to railway stations in India), Project Sunroof (a yet undeveloped product that helps you buy solar panels), and Project Titan (solar-powered drones). There are potentially many others, but they’re probably smaller than even Sunroof, which is little more than a website and database.
Notably, Access is unique in that it is a crazy amalgamation of several different Google experiments spanning a broad spectrum of purposes. Fiber is the most developed business of the group for sure, but Access also includes the small and little-known project OnHub, which brings in third-party manufacturers to make very expensive user-friendly routers. There’s also the assumably very expensive moonshot that is Project Titan, a group that works on solar-powered drones (although little else is known).
Interestingly, the report mentions that Alphabet is planning to soon rebrand the Access and Energy group with a new name. I’m curious to see what they go with for this — it’s hard for me to wrap my head around a name that would tie this collection of companies together with one, cohesive idea. Access and Energy seems to sum it up pretty well, but it seems Alphabet has a bigger vision for Fiber and beyond.