Area 120, the Google internal incubator responsible for products like Checks, Tables, Stack and ThreadBite, has been significantly impacted by broader layoffs at Google’s parent company Alphabet. A spokesperson tells TechCrunch via email that the majority of the Area 120 team has been “settled” and that only three projects from the department will transition into core Google product areas later this year.
The spokesman declined to say which specific projects were closed or completed. Previously, Area 120 has incubated pilot projects such as ThreadIt workplace video platform, Orion spectrum marketplace, Stack document scanner and more. At any given time, there were typically around 20 projects going, although not all were released.
“Affected employees in the US have been notified [of layoffs at Area 120], but in other countries this process takes longer and is subject to local laws and practices,” the spokesman added. “Our managing partner of Area 120 remains with the company.”
Area 120 was founded in March 2016 by Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai with the goal of developing experimental apps and services that could later become mainstream revenue drivers. Over the years, the division has launched a number of successful products, including HTML5 gaming platform GameSnacks (now integrated with Google Chrome), AI-powered conversational ads platform AdLingo (which has been spun off to Google Cloud) and the Video platforms Tangi and Shoploop (which leave for Google search and shopping).
Area 120 underwent a reorganization in 2021 that saw the group move into a new Google Labs division led by Clay Bavor, where they lived alongside other pioneering efforts at Google related to augmented reality, virtual reality and video conferencing. Then came cuts. Last September, Google canceled half of the projects in Area 120 and significantly reduced the program’s staff.
A source previously told TechCrunch that Area 120 had fewer than 100 employees after the latest round of cuts. Google declined to confirm the number.