Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is shutting down Its Kite Power subsidiary Makani in a bid to cut back on experimental technology and focus on the most important Internet business,media reported. It is the first project by X Labs since Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down as leaders in December.
Makani was founded in 2006 to build kites for wind power, eventually replacing more expensive turbines. Google bought the start-up in 2013 and placed it in Lab X with other “moonshots” projects, such as self-driving cars.
Makani was later spun off from Alphabet to become an independent company. But the project first ran into personnel problems, the parent company’s support was waning, and several environmentally friendly energy projects were canceled.
“Despite rapid technological progress, the road to commercialization is longer and more risky than expected, so starting today, Makani will be shut down,” Fort Felker, Makani’s chief executive, wrote in a blog post. “
Astro Teller, head of X Labs, said the lab would “tilt resources to more promising areas”.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which invests in Makani, said it was exploring other options for using Makani technology. “This does not mean that Makani’s path to technology development has come to an end, but it is no longer operating as a subsidiary of Alphabet,” Mr. Falk added. Shell is exploring options for continuing to develop Makani technology. “
Saul Griffith, co-founder of Makani, says the cost of wind energy has fallen sharply since its inception, making it harder to sell new clean energy technologies.
Alphabet’s “other bets” include several bold projects, such as drones and longer life. In the last quarter, the company’s capital expenditure spending in those sectors was $86m, compared with $6.6bn for Google.