Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, has recently confirmed to Forbes’ Miguel Helft that the company is planning to set up a new corporate incubator dubbed “Area 120”. The idea, whose contours are not fully defined yet, reemphasizes that corporate giants need to provide a supportive channel to satisfy the entrepreneurial itch of their highly talented employees, if they wish to retain them.
“We’ve always had a strong interest from within and have developed many of our products that way,” he said. “At our scale we want to make sure that there is a thoughtful way by which you give an avenue for those projects to be ambitious.” The Information had been the first to report the buzz around Area 120 last month.
Google has been famed for encouraging its engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on side-projects that they feel passionate about and feel would benefit Google. Area 120 is a pared-down version of the same idea, with its name being a twist on the 20% allocation.
“It is giving people a chance at 20% time more formally, ” said Pichai. Teams within Google will now be able to submit their business projects to Area 120, and if chosen by the CEO, they will be able to stay in the program for up to 6 months continuously, instead of a day per week. Additionally Google has vast computing resources to lend for incubating these projects.
“We also have large centralized infrastructure and services which people can take advantage of to go tackle new things, which is more like an incubator,” Pichai told Helft. The program will be under the wing of long-term executives, Don Harrison and Bradley Horowitz. Horowitz recently tweeted his about his excitement to be helping out in this project.
Once again, Google’s example showcases that big companies need to attract and retain their best talent by creating win-win environments, where the employees’ growth aspirations directly fuel the organization’s own cutting edge.