According to The Information, Google is creating a new, in-house incubator for employee-run startups. 1 The incubator, named “Area 120,” will be overseen by two long-time Google Executives, Don Harrison (Vice President of Corporate Development) and Bradley Horowitz (Vice President of Streams, Photos and Sharing).
According to The Information, the finer details of Area 120 are still being worked out, but the top-level structure has been pretty well established.2 This structure, broadly, is:
- Teams must apply to join the incubator – these teams will not leave Google, but will ” join the incubator full-time for several months.”3
- Later, the accepted teams will pitch Google for investment.
- Area 120 will be housed inside of one of Google’s new San Francisco offices.4
There are several reasons behind the formation of Area 120. First, The Information, and others speculate that the incubator is an extension of the 20% rule. Under this rule, Google employees are allowed to work on their own projects for 20% of their time. In recent years, however, the 20% rule has evolved into more of a 10-5% rule.
Second, over the past few years, Google has missed out on acquiring or retaining several high-profile startups. Notably Instagram – co-founded by Kevin Systrom, a former Googler.