Alphabet, Which You Once Just Called Google, Is Now the World’s Most Valuable Public Company

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A visitor of the "NEXT Berlin" conference tries out the Google Glass on April 24, 2013 in Berlin. "NEXT Berlin" describes itself as "a meeting place for the European digital industry". Organisers say that at the conference, "marketing decision-makers and business developers meet technical experts and creative minds to discuss what will be important in the next 12 months". The conference is running from April 23 to 24, 2013.       AFP PHOTO / OLE SPATA / GERMANY OUT        (Photo credit should read OLE SPATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Can you see the future?Photo: DPA/2013 AFP

Thanks in very small part to all your Gchatting, Alphabet, née Google, has overtaken Apple to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. Alphabet surged to a market capitalization of more than $547 billion as of Tuesday morning’s trading, besting Apple’s $529.3 billion, reports CNBC. 

The rise in valuation was significant because this is the first time Alphabet split up all the things we associate with Google — such as its search engine and digital ads — from its "moonshot" projects, including self-driving cars and laying internet cables. Investors had previously been pretty confused about the company’s earnings when all of its projects were cobbled together in one report. Now the breakdown is much clearer. Alphabet, it turns out, does take a big hit on its experimental endeavors. Those projects are expensive — totaling about $3.6 billion — and don’t reel in much revenue. But the core Google businesses are thriving, and the company earned an operating profit of $6.8 billion, with a lot of that coming from Google’s ad businesses.

Since most of us missed out on our Alphabet stock options anyway, what’s this to us? Well, it’s perfectly possible Apple could take the top spot again, but some are seeing the rise of Alphabet as a sign of, as BBC technology reporter David Lee puts it, "a passing of the technology baton." Apple, which earns a lot on its hardware (so many iPhones!), has already flooded the market, according to CBS News.

Add to that a shaky and volatile global economy, which might hit Apple a bit harder — a slowdown, especially in China, could put the brakes on iPhone upgrades. By contrast, clicking on a Google ad will always be free.