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Alphabet Announces Second Quarter 2018 Results [pdf] (abc.xyz)
175 points by take4 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 123 comments

26% revenue growth for such a large company is astounding. Google's growth machine seems to have lasted much longer than people expected.

26% is a crazy high growth rate for a company with 89,000 employees.

Even more amazing is that it's actually accelerating:

Q2 2018 vs. 2017 +26%

Q2 2017 vs. 2016 +21%

Q2 2016 vs. 2015 +21%

Q2 2015 vs. 2014 +11%

Q2 2014 vs. 2013 +21%

Q2 2013 vs. 2012 +11%

I don't think I've ever seen this with another big company.

Truly astounding.

I guess maybe the restructuring from Google to Alphabet worked. The idea was based on Berkshire Hathaway, another company with unusual growth. (http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2017ltr.pdf)

that seems like a strange conclusion, since a huge majority of the revenue and growth is still coming from Google.

I think one of the advantages of that structure is the head of Google now just focuses on Google instead of trying to think about a dozen other businesses as well.

Indeed, focus is a great thing. Although weirdly enough, Android is still part of Google as well; you'd think that'd be a prime candidate to move alongside Google as its own venture.

The idea may be that android benefits a lot more from integration with other google products. Although I'm not sure on how inter-alphabet cooperation is going.

I wonder what's the idea behind google growth ... maybe android apps improvements got them more visits/ads

Patrick Pichette always had a saying internally that 20% is the magic number. If you can keep growing 20% YoY, investors will let you do whatever you want.

I fear the times when they can't achieve those 20% and the winds start to change massively.

I think a big part of it is how over the past few years, the internet has truly gone mainstream in a way that it hadn't prior, namely the ad spend online, is starting to catch up with the time spent online as compared to other platforms such as TV, print, ect.

I believe 2017 was the year online ad spending passed television.

A quick search, using these terms: digital ad spend surpasses tv, shows multiple sources confirm my belief.

Yep, and they are doing their thing in new territories, with their stronghold (ad) still going up, and technology changing allows for even further opportunities there (voice, home, and so on).

Ad delivery still has some optimising opportunities, so still grow to be had there. Better ad placement means more valuable ads.

Revenue up 26% YOY (good but expected). Big one for me is advertising segment revenue as % of total segment revenue, down to 86.3% from 87.4%, which is good, they have got to diversify away from ads eventually.

Disappointing to see the "other bets" still at a paltry $145M and losses are growing faster. Also no mentioned whatsoever of cloud performance. Employee count up 15% but < NI growth. (does anyone know if this includes temporary staffing for things like streetview drivers?)

Wow, that was a big fine though.

As a user of GCP, they are moving with new useful products every few weeks. And it's a lot clearer as an offering than the top competitor. Perhaps fewer settings, but much easier to get your head around it. A lot of developers use it as a go-to, let's see how companies react over the next years.

And Google Cloud Next '18 from tomorrow, so surely few announcements to come.

Curious to why you say "top competitor" instead of AWS. Pretty much everybody knows who you're talking about.

(disclaimer: I worked at AWS from 2008 to 2014).

> Pretty much everybody knows who you're talking about.

Then saying "the top competitor" is useful to the small number of people who don't.


People do care about conflict of interest disclosures.

in the comments section of hn? it's almost always puffery.

Are you an individual user or corporate? Their reputation for large enterprises has been not enough handholding to accompany the complexity. (Relative to IBM/AWS/Oracle) I’m curious about your experience.

Both, but small company. But I agree with you, although thry are slowly attracting very large accounts — thanks to discounts surely, but at least they get some names, which will get some names as ROI. Well worth the huge discounts, if it all pans out.

I assume over the long haul they will be the low cost producer. They need to learn to sell and support in a higher touch manner to bring in the large corporates.

This is why Azure is outpacing AWS/GCE.

Microsoft's Enterprise sales force is second to none and they are clearly the number 2 in the cloud space. However, shifting office365 (a SAAS offering) to be reported as cloud revenue is disingenuous.

I wouldn't say second to none as Oracle's Enterprise sales force are better, and likely much better rewarded.

However if you combine the whole package, from sales, product, after sales services, etc. Microsoft is so far ahead of AWS, and Google doesn't know anything about human interaction / Sales.

I'll give you that.

It runs on Azure, ties in with Azure AAD, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Graph, and is offered as part of "Microsoft 365".

What's so disingenuous about that?

Cloud is generally accepted as a series of P / IAAS offerings, where clients are paying for infrastructure. Office365 is a SAAS offering, where clients are paying for software that does something, that happens to be hosted in the cloud. In the context of Microsoft's, Google's, Amazon's cloud businesses, Microsoft is comparing apples & oranges to everyone else's oranges.

Cloud is literally any service or offering that is hosted and served over network from 1st party DCs. Office365 meets that requirement quite well.

Also, SaaS is part of cloud[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_as_a_service

By extending that definition, would ~90% of Google's revenue be cloud revenue?

Sure, I wouldn't argue - everything does live in the "cloud".

People to whom this demarcation of revenue matter, don't care about how topline results are published as long as there is data on the finer points as well (which MSFT does publish).

Also, I just looked at the latest earnings to confirm my last point and they include Office365 figures not in "Intelligent Cloud" but in "Productivity and Business Processes" so what are you all on about?


> Productivity and Business Processes

> Revenue increased $1.1 billion or 13%, including a favorable foreign currency impact of 3%.

> Office Commercial revenue increased $598 million or 10%, driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth, mainly due to growth in subscribers and average revenue per user, offset in part by lower revenue from products licensed on-premises, reflecting a continued shift to Office 365 commercial.

How recently have you heard as I read somewhere recently (cannot find yet currently but looking) that Diane Greene massively increased their sales and support staff once she joined as head of cloud?

I’ve heard horror stories as recently as two weeks ago.

As a large corporate user I had a fairly poor experience using google cloud.

What issues did you face? Lack of support? Onboarding issues?

Mostly lack of support, unwilling and unable to add capacity in the way AWS is capable of, and other clear technical issues with their services.

Ok ya google was notorious for not providing proactive support especially enterprise customers demand a direct phone line to support team. Regarding capacity why would you consider google when you were in AWS? Was it due to pricing considerations?

While "other bets" are not showing much income, Waymo looks like it will be a big win.

As an Alphabet shareholder I'm quite happy with revenue heavily focused on advertising, since that is where I see the biggest growth opportunity. In fact I would like Alphabet to spin off their Waymo self-driving car company so I can sell my share in it. If other shareholders want to diversify they can just sell their Alphabet shares and buy a range of other stocks.

The main story here is the decrease in EBIT margin (i.e., operating margin) and the development of the monetization metrics.

Why would they want to move away from ads? Advertising is one of the more recession proof industries, when everyone else is suffering, it just keeps right on going.

Yeah, I think the ad spending as % of revenue is a serious problem. When the economy goes into the next recession I can see google getting crushed as companies cut their ad spend.

I dunno. I think ad spend overall will be crushed in the next recession but expect google to actually grow share. The power of retargeting plus intention based advertising means you can actually know "which half of your advertising is working".

Had to chuckle at their breaking out earnings into "including fines" and "excluding fines" categories.

It's intended to show an underlying trend of continued growth. That's the story they want Wall St to absorb.

> an underlying trend of continued growth

I understand the reasoning, and frankly agree with it. It's just funny. I don't remember banks, post-crisis, breaking their numbers out so overtly. Usually it was "less one-time charges" or something similarly circuitous.

This is sort of why GAAP and IFRS are constantly-evolving reporting standards: companies always want to present the best-possible version of events and investors always want to know the bad news.

If they continue their behavior, we would expect fines to continue growth as well.

It is showing an underlying trend of continued growth, but the sharpest growth segment is that of the fines!

The growth in fines will likely continue, given their sheer size and the GDPR. YouTube's continued movement away from being a "dumb pipe" and towards a curatorial role may also become a point of regulatory concern.

Every quarter they hire ~4000 employees, majority of them engineers and product managers. In q3 they expect even more due to new grads joining. Does anyone know how this looks compared to other big companies like amazon,microsoft,facebook, etc?

Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have all been hiring crazy amounts of people for the cloud as it is growing so fast.

Strong headcount growth versus other FANG-like companies.

Dumb question I’m too lazy to effectively google: what is FANG? (Assuming we’re not talking vampires)

Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google. It's a shorthand for high growth tech stocks. It is also sometimes abbreviated FAANG to include Apple, and sometimes it will include Microsoft.

It's best, IMO, to think of it as the BIG10 NCAA division, the name only represents a subset of its membership.

Big 6 wouldn't be a bad name for this group, most people would probably know who you're talking about. Unless people are going for some sort of double-entendre with the name FANG.

Seems reasonable. All the big oil companies used to be called “the 7 sisters” (before mergers) and then back in the 70’s for accounting it was “the big 8”.

Friendster, AOL, Napster, GoDaddy

Huge public tech companies with strong revenue: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google

Companies like Facebook, Amazon(/Apple), Netflix, and Google.

Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google

Is that something that's usually rewarded by Wall Street? I would think being more efficient (ie. making more money with less employees) would be viewed as more successful.

Yes it is, people are an asset in a growth company and not a liability. The ability for Alphabet to survive is to continue to innovate and go into new areas, and that always needs more, new, people. Also if Google has X % of the top new grads joining that’s X % who aren’t joining their competitors etc

There is a principle (some claim it holds true in pretty much every case) that in a company of N people only square root of N are doing all the work. So if you are a 4 person company you need to hire 12 more to double your output. if you are a company with 10 000 employees you will need to hire 30 000 more to double your output :)

May show, especially with such a strong company, intended growth and development within new territories which in turn, can mean new opportunities (Cloud, Waymo, etc.)

Is the A Apple or Amazon? No one is anywhere close to Amazon in headcount growth.

The collective is more commonly referred to as "FAANG": https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/faang-stocks.asp.

So the answer would be both.

In the original interpretation it was Amazon, as FANG originally referred to internet companies with high stock growth.

Honest question: First time reading quarter results. How do I interpret these results?

Revenue: sales recorded.

This might or might not represent cash coming through the door in this quarter, but it represents that there is an agreement for cash and goods/services to change hands.

Operating income:

Money left over after you subtract the costs of operating the business and making the sale. In a manufacturing firm, for example, you would subtract the cost of the materials in the goods sold. For Google they are deducting things like the running costs of data centres and wages for staff.

Operating margin:

You can think of this as raw profitability. Given the things management has direct, somewhat immediate control over, how good is the company at taking in more money than they spend?

Net income:

Take the Operating Income and then subtract taxes, interest payments, depreciation of assets and the like. These are all expenses, but not expenses directly connected to current activities.

In the rest of the figures they give metrics that are intended to help analysts understand the dynamics of the business that lead to the financials. So for example they showed how different categories contribute to the bottom line. They also show headcount, which can be seen as a leading signal of intention and ability to grow the business. That operating income has grown even with a very large headcount growth is impressive.


I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor, don't rely on this as professional or investment advice.

"Revenue: sales recorded."

Small clarification, this is sales recognized. For example, if your customer signs a 2 year service agreement at the start of a quarter, the revenue reported that quarter should be 1/8th of the total contract amount (assuming you are recognizing revenue at a flat rate).

Thankyou, this is an important correction. I expect a number of Google's contracts will be structured this way.

For those following along, spending some time with an introductory financial accounting book or textbook is a very useful way to understand a lot of business behaviour. I took a 101-level accounting course during my computer science degree and it has proved to be a very useful thing to have learned about.

You left out Traffic Acquisition Costs: money Google pays to other companies to make them guide traffic to Google sites (increasing ad impressions).

I’ve always wondered this - why do internet comments have to explicitly say “I’m not a lawyer and this is not a legal advice”?

I think that it’s pretty obvious and needless. What’s the consequence of not having a disclaimer? Internet has a lot of noise and it is the responsibility of the reader. I never understood why people have to say this.

Same goes for “I am not a Doctor”.

Are there any legal ramifications to:

A) Comment has legal terminology and kind of sounds like legal advice but has no disclaimer.

B) What if someone falsefully claims they’re a Lawyer and puts out a comment on the internet?

I am bothered by this since the dawn of the internet and never understood it.

For a few years I studied law. The first lecture was, essentially: "You are not lawyers. Do not give legal advice. Do not claim to know anything. You are not lawyers".

Since I dropped out, I am doubly not a lawyer.

There was a good discussion about this on law.SE: https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/596/what-legal-liabi...

I think it's just a friendly reminder to read with caution.

People need reminding.

The most important number and the least spoken about: free cash flow. They had $4.6B this quarter. In laymen's terms that means - at the end of this quarter they have an extra $4.6B of capital sitting around to deployed for investment (employee bonuses, acquisitions, capital expenditures, etc).

If you're interested in the finance behind software companies, highly recommend following Tren Griffin:


I'm struggling to see that number in the report. Is this something we need to go diving in for and calculate? I note from the twitter post you put up (thanks for the tip, now following Tren), that FCF is often obscured. Tips on how to find it/work it out?

Interesting. If you look at the Operating income with fines they are actually down from last year. If you look at it without fines it's 14% growth...

Given the increased scrutiny and the regulatory headwinds I think the with fines is probably a more accurate number. If you want to split it you could call it stagnant.

They are hiring a lot of people, but from from I've heard and seen the hiring standards have been reduced from what they used to be. A lot of the spending is to make Wall Street think they have something beyond search but it is still the cash cow the keeps it going...

Such an amazing grown rate. I'm speechless.

$5B in EU fines. Ouch.

I don't think they care as much about the fine as they do about potential changes to their business models being imposed on them going forward.

It hurt, but they still made 3 bil. If they have to pay 5 billion once a year to ensure they have a monopoly I don't that that is a bad trade for them.

> If they have to pay 5 billion once a year to ensure they have a monopoly I don't that is a bad trade for them.

That exact logic/approach is why we're seeing larger are larger fines, EU basically saying 'shape up, you can't ignore us.'

It may become worthwhile to spend on the order of $1B on lobbying though.

And legal. Are either of those fines final yet ?

But I find for both of those fines the stated reason from the EU very hard to believe. Does anyone miss "shopping comparison sites" ? I sure as hell don't ...

And the android search choice ? Really ? None of the other search engines support google assistant, and that's the only searching I do on android. Presumably that would never work without close collaboration between all search engines, and ... that's just not going to happen. Nor does iPhone allow you to switch search providers (nor, for that matter, does the redmi or even the amazon phone), so ... hmmm ... both of these "anti competitive actions" are really the norm in the marketplace. If firefox starts coming with an actually good "mozilla assistant" (Mozique ? heh), then perhaps we can start talking about this.

> It hurt, but they still made 3 bil. If they have to pay 5 billion once a year to ensure they have a monopoly I don't that that is a bad trade for them.

Why would the fine be annual? Fines aren't a tax you pay so you can continuously break the law. I would imagine if Google doesn't remedy the specific behaviors the EU has issues with, the EU will move on to more severe sanctions.

Particularly with a 20%+ growth rate and their pile of cash. An annual $5 billion EU envy tax is already meaningless. The EU can't stop the US tech machine from continuing to expand, it's already too late. While they focus on fines and hold a defensive posture, the US companies are consuming the planet ex China.

It's still very possible for nations to block out companies. China does it with great succes and as a result they have created their own safe hatchery for applications and hardware to grow strong before jumping into the global market, which is just 6x bigger anyway...

The EU will def not sit idly by and hand out 4 billion € fines if it doesn't hurt, the current one was only about 40% of the legal maximum they could have handed out (ie, about 10 billion €), and if Google doesn't play ball they'll get out the big toys.

You're right. Only one entity can take their monopoly away: the U.S. Department of Justice. The fine is just a fine.

The fines are going to keep getting larger though.

Alphabet earnings caused all-time-highs to be set(again) on the NQ immediately upon their release. The Nasdaq is in defying-reality territory currently. Exciting times for futures traders.

Interestingly, they found it necessary to present income with and without including 2017's $2.7B and 2018's $5B in fines.

Not speaking for my employer, and only an highly amateur accountant.

I believe this is done because the appeals process is not yet final. As to whether they "found it necessary," it may be a requirement, or to frame expectations into future quarters when inevitably these numbers finally persist or reverse.

Well, they always highlight one off charges, it is very common.

Anyone else notice that both the operating margin was down 2 points and other bets capex was down 10x?

Nest now being part of Google might explain the latter? If that's the case, one wonders where all the new revenue for Other bets comes from.

Would love to have seen the breakout between different types of advertising.

Fines are becoming a common expense, they should list them as a cost of doing business.

They aren't tax deductible for US purposes so you are taxed on pre-fine income.

Perhaps they should take a quarterly charge in anticipation of future fines.

Mass surveillance of billions of people pays off handsomely.

Google and Facebook are the only two businesses that prosper on ads, while your local newspapers, specialized websites, and journalism in general are dying.

You've been posting mainly inflammatory comments about Google and Facebook. Could you please try switching it up?

> Please don't use Hacker News primarily for political or ideological battle. This destroys intellectual curiosity, so we ban accounts that do it.


These are not inflammatory comments. These are facts about two monopolies, that are dangerous for society and for the internet in general. Plus there is this important thing called privacy of the individual.

> These are facts about two monopolies

If you poke through my comments, you'll find we share antipathy for Facebook and, to a less degree, Google. That antipathy, however, is an opinion. Not a fact. Neither Facebook nor Google are monopolies by any common definition.

Their business models disagree with our values. But a lot of Americans do as well. Your comments forego the debate necessary to establish agreement, and in that respect I think they are inflammatory. (As well as unproductive towards our common cause of convincing people these companies should be regarded with more caution.)

Depending on the data source, Google has 80%+ share of the search engine market in many countries (such as here in the UK). That's a level often considered monopolistic.

No, that's considered having a large market share. Monopolies do not have competitors and have markets that are difficult for other companies to enter. Google has competition, both search (Bing, Baidu, DDG, etc.) and ads (MSN, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Put another way, monopoly companies have a large market share, but not all companies with a large market share are monopolies.


The FTC explains their view of what is a monopoly.

I recently learned a new word: monopsony. That is, a market where single buyer has enough market power to dictate the terms of sale.

If google is not a monopsony they are certainly very close. This is reflected in the margins of online publishers vs those of google. If you want to publish content online, you have to do it on googles terms.

This degree of market power over the flow of information frankly makes me pretty uncomfortable.

Serious question. How is it that Google makes billions of dollars on ads and newspapers that depend on ads are suffering?

Because depending on ads to pay journalists is a crappy business. Ads are worth it if the content with the ads is super cheap to generate (e.g. search result pages, or user generated content)

What's the difference between Google and newspapers? A massive focus on technology.

I'm not sure it's the surveillance that makes Google earn so much. I would think the main reason is that search traffic is so valuable to advertisers.

Not only web searches.

Tracking Google Maps journeys, YouTube, Google Analytics across most of the web, a major portion of global email communications, Hangouts, Google Drive, etc, the list goes on and on.

Immensely valuable data that is able to predict trends and behaviour of both businesses and people in many instances

Their whole business model is a targeting advertisement, and targeting comes from the snooping: what you do, what you eat, what you read, where you are.

Not true. Their main business is auctioning off ads on their search result pages. That auction is mostly keyword-based and not interest-based.

I think you're confused. Google generates the majority of their revenue from ad targeting. Snooping and spying are performed by your government and paid for by your tax dollars.

Doesn't that rather support the notion that personalised, contextual ads are more effective?

There is this important little thing called privacy of the individual, that FB and Google monopolized and actively violate.

Most of the other information Facebook has about people is willfully given to them - your age, gender, likes, checkins, etc.

You can use Duck Duck Go

And your Android phone will forever nag you to switch back.

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