Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator responsible for products like Checks, Tables, Stack and ThreadBite, has been hit significantly by wider layoffs at Google parent company Alphabet. A spokesperson tells TechCrunch via email that the majority of the Area 120 team has been “phased out” and that only three of the division’s projects will graduate later this year in Google’s core product areas.
The spokesperson does not want to say which specific projects will be stopped or will graduate. Previously, Area 120 incubated pilots such as the workplace video platform ThreadIt, spectrum marketplace Orion, document scanner Stack and more. At one point, there were usually about 20 projects in progress, although not all of them were made public.
“Workers in the US who were affected have been notified [of layoffs at Area 120], but in other countries this process will take longer and is subject to local laws and customs,” the spokesperson added. “Our managing partner of Area 120 stays with the company.”
Area 120 was founded in March 2016 by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, with the goal of creating experimental apps and services that can later be aggregated into established profit drivers. Over the years, the division has launched a number of successful products, including the HTML5 game platform GameSnacks (now integrated with Google Chrome), AI powered conversational advertising platform AdLingo (who moved to Google Cloud), and video platforms scream and Shop run (who switched to Google Search and Shopping).
Area 120 underwent a reorganization in 2021, with the group moving into a new Google Labs division led by Clay Bavor, where it lived alongside other forward-looking efforts at Google related to augmented reality, virtual reality, and video conferencing. Then came cutbacks. Last September, Google canceled half of the projects in Area 120 and significantly reduced the program’s workforce.
A source previously told TechCrunch that Area 120 had fewer than 100 employees after the previous round of cuts. Google declined to confirm the number.