Re-branding in this way, according to experts and stock-pickers alike, is a genius idea. Google, so the story goes, is not a normal company, and so it can behave in non-normal ways. One would think that something had been miraculous had been invented. As it is, the new name (and excitement) simply reflects administrative changes in how the Google Empire is run. The Byzantines would have approved. Most of them that is.
The branding of the East Roman Empire as 'Byzantine' has its own story, worth saving for another day. But the Google into Alphabet has its own neat parallel in late antiquity when the authorities in Constantinople decided to switch from using Latin to using Greek.
The Roman Empire of course used Latin as its primary language - although the Emperor Claudius commended a barbarian for managing to learn 'both our languages' (that is, Latin and Greek). Claudius himself loved showing off his own prowess in Greek, delivering 'long replies' to envoys when given the chance, and liked nothing more than quoting Homer (presumably also at length and also in Greek) during official business.
Two problems emerged as the western part of the empire contracted and disintegrated and Rome itself spiraled into decline from the fifth century. First, the centre of gravity switched to the eastern Mediterranean where Greek was more widespread than in the west; and second, Greek was used by the computer programmers, the geeks and the Silicon valley equivalents of late antiquity - the Christian priesthood.
The move from Latin into Greek marked the same statement of intent that took Google to Alphabet - a declaration that it was time to look to the future, and not to the past. Rome - like Google - had once been all mighty and all-conquering. It was important to keep moving and think about victories that lay ahead, rather than reflect on those won years earlier.
And so to the moral of the story: did the change have any meaning - what now for Google/Alphabet if history really does rhyme (rather than repeat) ?
Well, if I was called to give my two cents at Mountain View (Rome and Constantinople were built on seven hills; Google with views of them), I'd say that the change was cosmetic and essentially meaningless. It disrupted little and seems to have neither particularly pleased nor annoyed anyone too greatly.
What is more significant, though, was, that re-branding in late antiquity coincided with a time of rising rivalries that brought Eastern Roman Empire to its knees. Soon, it was being buffeted from all sides by intense competition from rivals and challengers that it had previously seen off with ease. By 626, the once strong, secure and proud empire was teetering, one blow away from being knocked out for good. After a near miraculous dice with death, things went from bad to worse: having seen off Persians and Avars, it was the turn of new enemies to threaten to sweep all before them. Things were never quite the same again.
The change of language had no link with the challenges that emerged; but if I was a betting man, I'd follow my instincts as a historian. Faffing about with internal reorganisation has little to do with preparing for the onrush of pressure and challenges from rivals. So, counter-intuitively, Google's desire to look to the future points to the fact that there may be trouble ahead. You should never pander to the priesthood when it comes to power, money or empire.