by Cindy Huynh
Alphabet’s subsidiary Google is working on a blockchain-related product to support its cloud platform. While it’s unclear when it will be released, the blockchain-related product will help differentiate the Silicon Valley giant from its cloud service rivals. Google plans to provide a white-label version for other companies as well.
According to Bloomberg Technology, Google is releasing a blockchain-related product in response to the increasing competition from emerging startups who are implementing new blockchain solutions to rival the company.
The Alphabet Inc. has also been busy acquiring and investing in startups with expertise in digital ledger and blockchain technology. According to research firm CB Insights, Alphabet Inc. became a leading investor in 2017, ahead of Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
While Google started a trial for developers to test blockchain services on its cloud platform in 2016, the company has begun to explore broader uses of the technology. “Like many new technologies, we have individuals in various teams exploring potential uses of blockchain, but it’s way too early for us to speculate about any possible uses or plans,” said a Google spokesman.
Digital Ledger Technology: A Challenge and Opportunity for Google
Digital ledgers like blockchain technology have become a challenge and opportunity for the Silicon Valley giant. Digital ledgers allow distributed networks of computers to share their online databases and remove the risks associated when information is held centrally by a single company. Many startups see the potential of blockchain technology and are creating new online services to compete with large giants like Google.
Google, however, has great experience incorporating emerging and new technology into their company. As Google looks to blockchain technology, they are considering the Hyperledger Consortium. However, they may explore alternative options that are more scalable and can eventually handle millions of transactions.
“Any time there’s a paradigm shift like this, there’s an opportunity for new giants to emerge – but also for incumbents to adopt the new approach,” stated Elad Gil, a startup investor who previously worked on early mobile projects at Google over ten years ago.
Alphabet also has a history of investing in startups and undergoing small acquisitions or acqui-hires to keep up with new technology. Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV has made numerous investments. According to CB Insights, these include Ripple, Ledger X, Veem, and Buttercoin.
Startups Looking to Challenge Google
Although Google disrupted the internet in the early 2000s, a large number of startups are looking to topple Google’s existing monopoly in the digital space by leveraging blockchain technology.
A great example is Brave. Brave is a web browser that uses blockchain technology to pay websites whenever someone visits their webpage. Brave sees this approach as a better alternative to the advertisements that fund websites and run on Google Chrome. BitClave, on the other hand, rewards people for seeing ads online whenever they perform online searches. These startups are therefore tackling Google’s key features and improving it with blockchain technology.
“You’re going to see an unbelievable amount of R&D expenditures go into this,” said Jeff Richards, managing partner at venture firm GGV Capital. “Everybody learned from the internet and mobile that you can’t afford to wait.”