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Will the huge degree of diversity in ever more esoteric directions strengthen them or prove unmanageable?
Right, and if Google weren't experimenting with other things, people here would be arguing that Google is a one-trick pony.
The fact that Google can afford to invest in what you call "vanity projects" (and what other people might call R&D) answers your question, but probably not in the way you'd like.
with some good strong competition to keep them on their toes). I've made a lot of money from them over the last decade,