Alphabet has named Dinesh Jain as the latest CEO of the Access business unit, the third boss in a little over a year.
Alphabet’s Access business unit, which features Google Fiber and the acquired Webpass, was certainly one which caught the attention of the US telcos are a potential threat at the beginning but this has amounted to very little so far. Perhaps three CEOs in a period of 16 months is a perfect example of this bundling business unit.
“We’re excited to announce that Access has a new leader to move the Google Fiber and Webpass businesses forward,” a statement on the Google Fiber blog reads. “Dinesh (Dinni) Jain, an accomplished veteran of the U.S. and European cable and telecommunications industries – most recently as Chief Operating Officer at Time Warner Cable – starts as CEO of Access today.”
Taking over from Gregory McCray, who left the business in July 2017, who took over from Craig Barratt after he left in October 2016, Jain has the complicated task of figuring out the future of Access. The division has a minor but notable presence throughout the US, Google Fiber is in twelve metropolitan areas while Webpass has eight, but so far it has looked nothing more than an expensive play thing.
Perhaps the only saving grace for Jain is the openness to experiment in new areas. Losing a couple of hundred million here and there doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Alphabet execs just as long as every avenue is explored. The Googlers have shown on numerous occasions they are willing to fund an unprofitable idea if there is light at the end of the tunnel, Google Maps is an excellent example, but this one might such up a lot of cash until that glimmer is found.
Alphabet started out with some very big ideas for the connectivity world but found out that competing with the big boys was going to be a difficult task. Playing in the physical world of connectivity is an expensive and time consuming game, and it is very different from Alphabet’s core competencies. We get the impression this was under-appreciated at first, but with this appointment perhaps Alphabet is showing it is ready to dig its heels in and persist until there are no other options left.
It is unclear for the moment as to whether the team will continue down the fixed wireless path or fibre ambitions will be remembered, but there will be a few in the US who will welcome this news. A notable proportion of US citizens only have access to one connectivity provider in the US so any additional competition would be welcomed.
We’ve also mentioned before that a company with the brand reputation of Google could shake things up considerably in the US. US citizens like Google more than the likes of AT&T or Verizon, should Access be able to sort itself out, it might be able to cause some damage. Perhaps this is what is fuelling the desires of the Alphabet executives.