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Google Reportedly Building In-House Startup Incubator, 'Area 120'

Google Reportedly Building In-House Startup Incubator, 'Area 120'
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If you're a Googler with a great idea, then you've probably spent a few hours, if not a decent chunk of time, writing out a bunch of pro / con lists: Do you stay at Google, where you might be making a pretty good salary and have some great benefits (and food), or do you quit, follow your dreams, and try to make it big among the fairly competitive Silicon Valley startup landscape?

Why not both?

According to multiple reports, Google is now creating its own in-house startup incubator called Area 120. Though its name sounds a little X-Files, how it works is pretty simple. Googlers who are looking to team up and launch a brand-new business can apply to join Area 120 by submitting a business plan to Google. If selected, the team will get to work on its idea full-time for a certain amount of time -- and, no, we're not sure what that means for a person's actual job responsibilities during that time. Presumably, Google would be weighing the importance of one's Google job versus the potential success (or interesting aspects of) one's business plan.

These internal startups of-sorts will also be able to pitch Google for funding. If successful, Google will help them launch their company -- breaking them out from under Google's wing entirely. In doing so, Google becomes an early-stage investor (at least) for whatever the team has built. While we don't yet know what Google gets back in terms of ROI for its investment, we can only assume that Google will also financially benefit from any startups that end up becoming The Next Big Thing.

 

That is, of course, assuming that this "20 percent time" concept even exists anymore -- some maintain that it's simply too difficult for some employees to put their real jobs on hold while they explore potentially more creative pursuits. Yet, now they'll be able to form startups if their ideas are good enough.Interestingly enough, Area 120's headquarters won't be down at Google's main Mountain View campus. According to Business Insider, Area 120 will be located at one of Google's San Francisco office buildings. And the name, for those curious, is a reference to Google's "20 percent time" concept, whereby employees are encouraged to spend part of their full-time jobs working on projects that they find intellectually stimulating (and beneficial to Google).

Google executives Don Harrison and Bradley Horowitz will head up Area 120. The former is currently Google's vice president of corporate development, and the latter is Google's vice president for Photos and Streams. The new initiative should hopefully help Google to keep new ideas and startups under its wing, as opposed to losing key talent (and these ideas) when industrious employees want to branch out and try their own either on their own or as part of another company.


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