Google’s Project Loon was spun off as a corporation and is now called Loon Inc., as revealed by its recent filing with the United States Federal Communications Commission. The Mountain View, California-based company has yet to announce the move in an official capacity but is apparently preparing to let its internet initiative continue developing on its own going forward.
Project Loon was incubated by Google’s moonshot factory X in 2011 after the firm has been considering such a program for around three years. It was officially announced in mid-2013 and ran pilot programs all over the world, covering some areas of New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and many other countries. The newly incorporated entity is presently active in Puerto Rico where it’s striving to provide internet connectivity to the disaster-struck U.S. territory in the Caribbean in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Maria. Loon’s request for a temporary permission to fly Internet-relaying balloons over Puerto Rico which the company submitted to the FCC is believed to be the first public document referring to it as Loon Inc.
Many of X-enabled moonshot projects are spun off from their parent after reaching a certain phase of development and being deemed fit for standalone operation. Alphabet’s self-driving division Waymo was incorporated in a similar manner last year after spending years directly under Google and Project Wing is expected to follow suit in the near future. Loon Project Lead Alastair Westgarth is said to be the likeliest candidate for the company’s Chief Executive Officer after spending nine months with Google. It’s currently unclear what kind of a business model is Loon set to adopt but the firm will now be under the pressure of becoming profitable, being categorized as one of Alphabet’s Other Bets, moonshot businesses seeking to capitalize on various emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles. Loon’s existing creations are capable of delivering 4G LTE speeds in a radius of 20 kilometers, or 12.42 miles. While the performance of Alphabet’s Other Bets isn’t specifically broken down as part of the company’s financials, the official announcement of Loon becoming a standalone business may be made alongside the tech giant’s Q3 2017 report which is set to be detailed on October 26th.