Thursday 19 January 2017

Why does Google's new parent website Alphabet link through to a fictional company from Silicon Valley?

Hidden link actually violates Google's own terms of service

Published 11/08/2015 | 14:41

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 announced it is changing its operating structure and will become part of a holding company called Alphabet. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 announced it is changing its operating structure and will become part of a holding company called Alphabet. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Google is changing its operating structure to become part of a holding company called Alphabet (AP)

Much has been made of the announcement that Google are to restructure under a new 'parent' company Alphabet - but the new website has a strange feature.

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The new parent company Alphabet doesn't own either the Twitter handle @Alphabet or the website Alphabet.com. Instead, the Alphabet announcement and mission statement can be found at abc.xyz.

However, around two thirds of the way down the page, one of the punctuation marks (the full stop after 'our drone effort', to be precise) is a hidden link. When clicked, the user is brought Hooli.com/xyz.

Read more: Owner of @alphabet Twitter handle awaits nerve-wracking call from Google  

Viewers of popular HBO show 'Silicon Valley' will immediately recognise the reference - Hooli is a fictional company in HBO show Silicon Valley. It is portrayed as a morally bankrupt company who squashes startup companies in order to take credit for their technology. In particular, the program 'XYZ' in the show was created in order to make one Hooli employee appear 'instrumental' to the company in order to win a lawsuit against start-up 'Pied Piper', who are creating a compression product far superior to Hooli's own (copied) product.

Why would the new parent company of the world's biggest tech firm want to associate itself with a fictional company and a fictional program within that company? Moreso, the program is not only fictional but in the show, it's a fake program only designed to win a lawsuit, where the employees do nothing and spend their time exploding things for fun.

Read more: Silicon Valley: 'Smart, sharp and funny - the best comedy from HBO in a long time'

The site features a large picture of "Sole Head Dreamer Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti", the fictional character in the show and the quote "“WE ARE SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON”, attributed to Shakespeare.

Bighetti's bio reads: "co-founder, principal innovator and chief visionary of Pied Piper... just three credits shy of an undergraduate degree in computer science from the University of Oklahoma. He owns a boat".

The description of the Hooli XYZ program reads: "Self-driving cars? Flying cars? Self-flying cars? A space elevator? A cure for the AIDS virus? A non-polluting engine that runs on the AIDS virus? Are these things even possible?

Well…at HooliXYZ, we are in active discussions about the long-term feasibility of these, as well as many other projects".

Google does not own HBO. Is Hooli not portrayed as the kind of company Google would surely wish to distance themselves from? Is there a reason that the biggest announcement the company has made in years would link to the fledgling TV series?

After the announcement of Alphabet, the Mountain View, California, company's stock was up about 5% in after-hours trading.

Once the reorganisation is complete, the company says its two existing classes of publicly-traded stock will continue on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbols GOOG and GOOGL.

Read more: Google to become part of new holding company 'Alphabet' in major overhaul of operating structure

Interestingly, using 'hidden links' is a violation of Google's own terms of service.

 

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