Satellite outfit Skybox has been an integral part of Google's plans to create a worldwide internet connection, but reports indicate that they may soon become the newest victim of Alphabet's tendency to pump the brakes on overly ambitious and expensive projects if they can't make some tangible cash in short enough order. In many areas, Alphabet's strategy seems to be shifting away from doing things entirely on their own or buying companies up, and toward investing in and working with companies that do the things that they want to do. In this particular instance, the principle can easily be applied to the potential buyer of Skybox, satellite imaging company Planet.
Planet has been in the satellite imaging game a while, and does the same thing Skybox does; manufactures cheap, light satellites for specific missions. For now, there aren't many details about how the deal may go, such as price and structure. All that Skybox and Alphabet are willing to say at this point is that if the deal goes through, some staff in Alphabet's Terra Bella department, where Skybox landed, will end up at Planet, while others will get new jobs within Alphabet, and possibly within Google. Naturally, the Terra Bella employees involved did not say who would be going where. Right now, details of the transaction are still on the table, and are highly classified.
One thing that did come to light, going along with Alphabet's new strategy, is that the transaction would see Alphabet ending up with some stake in Planet, rather than cash. This means that Alphabet gets to continue reaping a good portion of the benefits of Skybox's work, while also getting a piece of Planet's pie. While there was no disclosure as to exactly how much stake Alphabet would get and what the two companies may do on Alphabet's behalf going forward, it's conceivable that they will help provide imagery for Google Maps, since their work will involve satellite imagery anyway. Up until Skybox was bought up by Google, they were fierce rivals with Planet, with the two having similar goals and different approaches. If this transaction goes through, it will mean that their approaches, many smaller satellites and fewer large, high-resolution satellites, will be integrated, likely generating some of the best satellite imagery in the industry.