Google, and now parent company Alphabet, is often known for a place where dreams are made. The flip side of that coin is that it is also sometimes a place where those dreams are buried. Notorious for axing even expensive projects, Google and Alphabet regularly shut down things that no longer seem viable, especially from a commercial perspective. The latest to be given that treatment is wind power company Makani but, fortunately, the story doesn’t end on a completely sad note.
Although it has been around since 2006, Makani was bought up by then a singular Google in 2013 for its work on harnessing the power of the wind to generate accessible sources of energy. Makani’s primary project was an airborne wind turbine, basically a power-generating kite.
When Google split up and became a subsidiary under Alphabet, Makani was moved to the X subsidiary but was eventually spun out to be its own unit under Alphabet. It became part of the latter’s “Other Bet” group, other projects and products that could take the company beyond its main cash cows of search and advertisement. Unfortunately, it seems that this particular bet wasn’t going to pay off.
Makani lead Fort Felker announced in a blog post that the company’s time with Alphabet is coming to an end. It is the first Alphabet company to reach its end since Sundar Pichai took over the reins in December. Even Felker admits that turning its wind energy kites into something commercially viable is going to take a longer time than first hoped.
It’s not the end for Makani and its technology, however, as it will continue to exist on its own. It just needs to find a new partner willing to invest in that vision and it seems that Shell, who was one of its earliest partners, is already considering possibilities.