Stock of Google’s parent company Alphabet (GOOG) continued its upward trend through the first two weeks of March, reaching a new high of $847.35 during Monday (March 13) morning trading. GOOG was initially reported to have opened even higher on Wednesday morning, though that value has since been adjusted down.

While currently below its peak, GOOG has remained above $840 since Friday of last week. Analyst sentiment remains bullish for Alphabet, with many anticipating that GOOG could rise over 18 percent to hit the $1,000 milestone within the next 12 months. GOOG has already grown over nine percent since the beginning of 2017.

Alphabet is expected to report its Q1 2017 earnings in just over a month, which will set the tone for the coming months and work to hone the spread of projections through the end of the year. At the time of writing, one GOOG share was worth $843.12, down 0.30 percent from Tuesday’s close, but still well up for the week and prior. Alphabet’s current estimated market cap sat over $591.4 billion.

On the investment end, Alphabet’s venture department (formerly Google Ventures) recently put some cash in the hands of Currencycloud, a U.K.-based payments startup that enables financial service developers to create cross-border payment tools and services.

Alphabet’s investment was part of a $25 million round that also included input from existing investors Notion Capital Ltd and Rakuten Inc., among others.

The funding round will be put toward Currencycloud’s continued global expansion. Currencycloud recently went stateside and has also seen interest coming from Asian markets, CEO Mike Laven told Reuters. Alphabet is likely betting on the U.K. startup to be a source of technologies that will enable domestic businesses to more easily expand into global markets.

Speaking of global expansion — on the consumer products end, Alphabet Inc.’s Nest is vying for a larger piece of the smart home market by developing less expensive versions of its products. The end products will likely be comprised of cheaper component parts to bring the price tag down.

Sources told Bloomberg News that Nest is developing a model of its smart thermostat — which learns to adjust climate settings based on user behavior — that would reportedly sell for under $200. (The current version retails for some $249.)

The high price of entry could be an impediment to growth for the burgeoning global smart home market. And demand is certainly global. Back in January, Nest announced the launch of its line of products in Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria. While Nest’s hardware, software and services have only been made officially available in eleven countries, with functionality in local languages, Alphabet reported Nest products are used currently in upwards of 190 countries worldwide.

In addition to the more affordable thermostat, which could make its market debut by next year, a cadre of less expensive versions of Nest’s smart alarm system, digital doorbell and indoor security camera may also be in development.

On the chat and conferencing end, Google recently made a play to take on Slack and Microsoft for workplace use-case supremacy.

Last week, Google announced its enterprise-focused reinvention of its messaging, voice and video chat application Hangouts. The company launched two new applications — Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat — which work to provide two distinct business communication functions.

Hangouts Chat is the direct competitor to Slack, facilitating intra-office chatting. Teams can create separate rooms for different projects or people, share files and view them within the interface or set a bot to schedule meetings and send out reminders.

Hangouts Meet, on the other hand, is Google’s now-distinct video conferencing application for desktop and mobile.

“Simply start your meetings with a shared link,” wrote Scott Johnston, director of product management at Hangouts, in a company blog post. “No accounts, plugins, downloads or hassles. Meet provides a place for everyone to join from Calendar, an email invite or an ad-hoc share.”

While this move might appear to play into the “too many messengers issue we previously commented on, the enterprise focus and distinct functionalities of the Hangouts split might actually work to minimize the issue. The specialization here works to cut back considerably on the redundancy between Hangouts (pre- Meet and Chat) and Allo, Duo, Voice and Google Messenger.

Further, the enterprise focus positions Google to equip businesses, just as the number of remote workers in the U.S. is projected to rise.

The company cited a recent survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London, where some 34 percent of respondents said more than half of their company’s full-time workforce would be working remotely by 2020. Additionally, 25 percent reported that more than three quarters would not work in a traditional office by 2020.

Google has positioned itself to be a leader in technologies that enable full- and part-time remote work, especially if the company plans to fully integrate Meet and Chat functionalities directly into Gmail — as of now, the exact relationship is unclear.

And since Microsoft just launched its Teams, its chat-focused workspace for Office 365, in 181 global markets, such an integration could be key.


Source: http://www.pymnts.com – Payments
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