Alphabet chief exec Sundar Pichai revealed the internet giant is “looking at” web3 and blockchain earlier this week.
On a Tuesday earnings call, Pichai stated Alphabet is keen to add value to the development of blockchain wherever it can.
As reported by Bloomberg, Pichai’s comments — however vague — were the first real hint that he sees blockchain playing a potential role in the Google parent’s future.
“Any time there is innovation, I find it exciting,” said Pichai. “I think it’s something we want to support the best we can.”
Just days prior, Google announced the formation of a group dedicated to blockchain applications for Google Cloud, such as data storage and hosting blockchain networks on behalf of third parties.
Alphabet embodies what’s come to be known as ‘web2.’ These companies generally exploit user-generated content and data to provide free services, like YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like.
That’s opposed to what’s promised in Silicon Valley’s version of ‘web3,’ a purportedly egalitarian internet experience in which users themselves — not just internet giants — can exploit their data for profit.
So, outside of providing cloud services to crypto startups, Alphabet and Google have been relatively quiet on anything web3, particularly where cryptocurrency and NFTs are concerned.
Alphabet slower than other ‘web2’ giants to adopt blockchain
Some reports indicate Google Cloud could one day accept cryptocurrency, but Pichai kept tight-lipped on Alphabet’s specific stance during this week’s earnings call.
Google still doesn’t accept crypto for its ads and its payment app Google Pay doesn’t either — not even blue chips like Bitcoin or Ether.
Alphabet’s stance starkly contrasts that of Twitter, Block (formerly Square), and Meta (formerly Facebook).
The former two have already integrated crypto directly into their primary offerings (Twitter supports NFTs and Bitcoin tips while Block’s Cash App adopted Bitcoin long ago).
Meta plans to support NFTs in a variety of ways across its platforms Facebook and Instagram in the near future.
According to those in the know, this ‘suck it and see’ approach to web3 could all be part of Alphabet’s master plan; the tech behemoth may be waiting for the right time to shoot its shot.
Speaking to Bloomberg back in December, former Google marketeer Kushagra Shrivastava said about his former employer playing coy with decentralized web fans: “I am confident they have a strong opinion on it already.”
Shrivastava went on to suggest that Alphabet will continue making “calculated bets” on web3 while it waits for regulation to firm up and for mainstream adoption to rise.
Then Alphabet will “come in heavy,” he reckoned.