Google Ideas, Google’s think tank, has officially split off from the rest of the Google products to become its very own sub-division of Alphabet. J, in the company’s ever growing list of companies, now stands for ‘Jigsaw’. Jared Cohen is Jigsaw’s newly appointed president, having run as the Director of Google Ideas for some time. Eric Schmidt announced the move in a Medium post.
Google Ideas has been running for around five years as a think tank to tackle issues like online censorship, corruption and violence in areas where people are coming online for the first time. Engineers, scientists and product managers all form part of the team which helps protect internet users from DDoS attacks by contributing to open-source projects like uProxy and Password Alert. uProxy is a tool which gives access to uncensored internet, while Password Alert protects users from phishing attacks.
Jigsaw will continue in these efforts, as well as their initiatives aimed at dealing with organized crime, human trafficking, terrorism and money laundering, among others.
Why Jigsaw? For one thing, the new name acknowledges that the world is a complex puzzle of physical and digital challenges. For another, it reflects our belief that collaborative problem-solving yields the best solutions.
As a technology incubator, Jigsaw will be investing in and building technology to expand access to information for the world’s most vulnerable populations and to defend against the world’s most challenging security threats.
Jigsaw is just the latest former Google product to become its own sub-division within Alphabet. Previous splits include the likes of ‘X’, the company which develops the Project Loon balloons and self-driving cars, and Life Sciences (now Verily). What that means is that Google, under Sundar Pichai, can focus on the projects that hit mainstream market, without having its attention drawn to too many other, more exploratory efforts.