According to the latest news, Alphabet is shutting down Loon. According to a post on the blog of Alphabet’s X moonshot division, Loon is a division that provides internet from floating balloons.
Astro Teller, who leads Alphabet’s X, wrote in the blog, “The road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped. In the coming months, we’ll begin winding down operations and it will no longer be an Other Bet within Alphabet.”
Note that back in June 2013, Alphabet launched Loon and with time, Loon “graduated” from a moonshot to an independent company within Alphabet within 2018. Back in July 2020, Loon launched its first commercial internet service in Kenya that comprised of 35 balloons and covered an area of around 50,000 square kilometers.
Loon has also provided internet services to areas affected by natural disasters. Back in 2017, Loon deployed balloons to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and in 2019 to Peru following an earthquake.
Teller said that Loon is working to place employees in other roles at X, Google, and Alphabet. He said, “A small group of the Loon team will stay to ensure Loon’s operations are wrapped up smoothly and safely — this includes winding down Loon’s pilot service in Kenya.”
An X spokesperson has told The Verge that Loon’s service in Kenya will run until March 2021. In order to support Kenyan people who might be affected by the loss of Loon’s service, Loon is pledging US $ 10 million. More precisely, it is supporting non profitable organizations and businesses in Kenya who are dedicated to “connectivity, Internet, entrepreneurship and education.”
Notably, Loon is not the only moonshot that Alphabet has shut down. Last year, the company shut down Makani. Makani used wind turbines attached to kites to create renewable electricity. Back in 2016, the company also shut Project Foghorn, which researched how to create clean fuel from seawater.