Fast Company

GOOGLE’S 100% SOLUTION

AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT HOW IN-HOUSE INCUBATOR AREA 120 IS GROWING NEW IDEAS FROM GOOGLERS
SPACE TO GROW Managing director Alex Gawley says Area 120 seeks to solve “problems that people encounter daily.”

Google’s “20% time”—the long-standing perk that invites employees to carve off a fifth of their working hours to devote to personal projects that might have value to the company—is among its most iconic traditions. It’s given birth to some highly successful products, from Google News to the Cardboard VR headset. But Google’s demanding day jobs, it turns out, often don’t shrink to accommodate ambitious side hustles. There’s a sardonic joke inside the company: 20% time is really 120% time.

Twenty percent time may be more ethos than inviolate corporate benefit. But as Google and its parent, Alphabet, have swelled to 89,000 employees, the company’s commitment to bottom-up innovation remains a foundational value. Which led Google to ask itself a question: What if Googlers with big dreams could devote their full attention to tackling them, with enough structure and resources to maximize the odds of success?

The answer it came up with is Area 120, a two-year-old in-house incubator whose very name slyly

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Fast Company

Fast Company3 min readTech
01.–02. For Pioneering Transactional Super Apps
In the first half of 2018, Meituan Dianping—a Chinese tech platform that expedites the booking and delivery of services such as food, hotel stays, and movie tickets— facilitated 27.7 billion transactions (worth $33.8 billion) for more than 350 millio
Fast Company2 min read
How To Manage Morries
All those myths about people born on Tuesday? Yeah, they’re pretty much true. So here’s how to handle this growing population.
Fast Company5 min read
16. For Helping Us Believe Our Eyes
Early one morning in April 2017, a series of horrific photos and videos began hitting Facebook and YouTube showing civilians in a rebel-held area of northern Syria writhing on the ground and gasping for oxygen as deadly sarin-based gas—which witnesse