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Google Launches In-House ‘Startup Incubator’ to Stop Employees from Leaving Other Startups

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By Ian Kar Quartz April 25, 2016

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Google wants to keep employees who want to start their own company, or join a high flying startup. So the company may develop an “in-house incubator” allowing Google employees to develop their startups within the company.

Codenamed “Area 120,” the effort will be led by Don Harrison, VP of corporate development, and Bradley Horowitz, who runs Photos and Streams, according to tech industry publication The Information.

Details are being worked out, but Googlers will likely pitch business plans to the incubator and, if approved, can work on their ideas for a few months. The teams can then invite Google to be an initial investor in the startup.

Silicon Valley is rift with folks chasing the next big thing—whether it’s virtual or augmented reality, drones, artificial intelligence, or something even more futuristic. Huge companies like Google risk missing out. Ex-Googlers have founded major companies such as Twitter and Instagram. Developing a program to get in on the ground floor may help the search engine giant retain those sorts of budding businesses.

Historically, incubators haven’t had a great track record. They are often difficult to implement inside big organizations with developed bureaucracies. The “Area 120” program will likely try to capitalize on Google’s unique culture and take notes from Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s most successful incubator.

The Information said this new in-house incubator can be thought of as an extension of Google’s noted 20 percent time—the idea that Google employees can spend 20 percent of their time working on independent projects. Similarly, Google is considering having “entrepreneurs in residence”—experienced founders who have successfully ran their own companies—involved for added guidance.

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