Area 120 incubator focuses exclusively on AI projects
Google Corporation announced the reformatting of its startup incubator Area 120. Now it will deal mainly with projects based on artificial intelligence technology. At the same time, startups that are not related to this area will be closed.
Not long ago, the CEO of Google announced his intention to make the company 20% more efficient than it is now. Such words were perceived by many employees as a hint of further staff cuts. And news of Area 120 project closures confirmed such fears. As a result, the number of startups in the incubator fell by half: while there were 14 before, there are only seven left. Employees whose projects were abandoned will have to find their own place in other Google offices by the end of January next year, or they will be fired.
Previously, the incubator Area 120 was engaged in the development of a variety of projects that fell within the scope of the corporation. However, now all the attention will be paid to AI technologies. Initially, this area was created for the development of experimental projects, but now Google believes that artificial intelligence is the most promising direction. The management of Area 120 said that teams whose startups are being shut down can explore new projects within Google.
However, not all of the incubator’s projects were successful; many of them were closed as quickly as they were created. A striking example is Museletter, which was launched last September and closed by December. The product helped create newsletters on various topics and share them with their subscribers, similar to the Twitter and Revue mechanisms. The service didn’t even wait for release before Google decided to shut it down.
In view of Area 120’s innovations, it is hoped that there will be fewer and fewer such unsuccessful projects. Still, however, the incubator remains a research unit, which implies the possibility of mistakes.
Area 120 was launched in 2016 and is designed for corporate employees who want to develop their own ideas. Approximately since 2006 Google specialists were allowed to spend 20% of their working time on the development of personal projects, that’s how the mailer Gmail and a number of other famous products appeared. However, in 2013, the company’s management abandoned this rule, arguing the possibility of implementing their own ideas to improve overall efficiency. Instead, a few years later Area 120 was created.