Google spins out secret hi-speed telecom project called Aalyria, and keeps stake in startup

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The logo of Google is seen at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech,in Paris, France May 16, 2019.
Charles Platiau | Reuters

Inside Google, a team of techies has been working behind the scenes on software for high-speed communications networks that extend from land to space.

Codenamed “Minkowski” within Google, the secret project is being unveiled to the public on Monday as a new spinout called Aalyria.

While Google declined to offer details about Aalyria, such as how long it’s been working on the technology and how many employees are joining the startup, Aalyria said in a news release that its mission is to manage “hyper fast, ultra-secure, and highly complex communications networks that span land, sea, air, near space, and deep space.”

The company says it has a laser communications technology “on an exponentially greater scale and speed than anything that exists today.” Aalyria’s software platform has been used in multiple aerospace networking projects for Google.

The spinout comes as Google parent Alphabet reckons with a slowdown in ad spending and looks to advance or wind down experimental projects. That in part means seeking external funding for some of the projects that it’s incubated for years. Businesses such as life sciences company Verily and self-driving car maker Waymo have raised money from outside investors, while Alphabet has shuttered initiatives such as Makani, which was building power-generating kites, and internet-beaming balloon business Loon.

Aalyria (pronounced ah-Leer-eeh-ah) said it has an $8.7 million commercial contract with the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit. The company will be led by CEO Chris Taylor, a national security expert who has led other companies that have worked with the government. Taylor’s LinkedIn profile says he’s the CEO of a company in stealth mode that he founded in November.

Alphabet itself has been pursuing more lucrative government contracts and earlier this year announced “Google Public Sector,” a new subsidiary geared at U.S. government partnerships primarily through Google Cloud.

Aalyria’s board of advisors includes several previous Google employees and executives as well as Vint Cerf, Google’s chief internet evangelist who’s known as one of the fathers of the web.

Google will retain a minority stake in Aalyria but declined to say how much it owns and how much outside funding the company has raised. Google said that earlier this year it transferred nearly a decade’s worth of intellectual property, patents and physical assets, including office space, to Aalyria.

Aalyria’s light laser technology, which it calls “Tightbeam,” claims to keep data “intact through the atmosphere and weather and offers connectivity where no supporting infrastructure exists.”

“Tightbeam radically improves satellite communications, Wi-Fi on planes and ships, and cellular connectivity everywhere,” the company said.

WATCH: A ride in a self-driving Waymo

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