Will Google regret its tougher approach to moonshots?

From teleportation to jetpacks, and kite energy to Wifi balloons, Google’s X Development division is all about big ideas. But while investors welcome CFO Ruth Porat’s tougher approach to such thinking, will it ultimately curtail Google’s stratospheric rise?

by Paul Simpson
Ruth Porat
Ruth Porat

Google’s moonshots seldom achieve lift off anymore. And much of the blame – or credit – for that lies with Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. 

Porat, 63 is neither a hatchet woman nor a bean counter. A former CFO at Morgan Stanley, she is listed as one of America’s richest self-made women by Forbes magazine. Former colleagues talk of her as a ‘difference maker’ and, as soon as she took over at Alphabet in 2015, some Wall Street analysts began talking up the company’s shares. 

With a keen eye for the detail of operating expenses, she has challenged Google to justify its moonshots and several pet projects have been closed, restructured or sold off. Investors have generally praised her tougher line for bringing focus and clarity to the business.

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