The next Yahoo. In the nineties that was probably a dream worth pursuing. The company owned the internet portal business and with it internet search. For an upstart like Google, with its new way of doing search being the next Yahoo must have seemed like an impossible dream.
Right now the prospect of being the next Yahoo must trouble every Google exec's worst nightmares.
Google Glass, self driving cars, music and video subscription services, even social media tools like G+ are all the product of one overwhelming desire: don't be the next Yahoo.
Google's profits come almost exclusively from desktop search advertising.
The desktop is disappearing and ad views are going mobile. With a greater proportion of mobile web activity coming from iOS devices, with Apple providing the means to prevent Google's ads appearing on those devices; Google must see that income from search is not only no longer guaranteed, it's a stream that is hugely at risk.
Whilst Yahoo failed to see the market changing around it and as a result sees itself in a death spiral which Marissa Meyer doesn't seem capable of buying her way out of, Google has seen the writing on wall and tried to act.
Even the recent move to rename the company was, I suspect, a product of this need.
By decoupling new products and companies from the Google name, Alphabet now has an opportunity to develop or purchase new businesses without the weight of the Google name affecting the outcome.
That means more fingers in more pies and a greater chance of riding the next wave of success. Be that new technologies like Glass and self-driving cars, new relationships like the expansion of the Nexus programs and Chromebooks, or even further adventures in financing and investing.
Google is building a platform for a future where its Search engine is no longer relevant.
In the meantime Yahoo's sale of assets to fund ever more desperate acquisitions and acqui-hires in the hope of finding a strategy that offers it a future is only making money for sellers. And its rapidly reaching the point where every play looks like a Hail Mary.