Google plans to sell Boston Dynamics robotics division - report

Posted:
in General Discussion
Those worried about a future of Google-controlled robots taking over the world need fret no more, as the search engine giant has reportedly decided to sell off its advanced Boston Dynamics robotics research division.

Boston Dynamics


The sale comes as executives at Google parent Alphabet have begun to question whether the robotics efforts would yield a marketable product in the near future, according to Bloomberg. The company is working to ensure that each of its operating groups has a reasonable strategy for generating revenue as it seeks to attract more entrepreneurially-minded employees.

Google X executive Jonathan Rosenberg is said to have told members of Google's robotics team -- including those at Boston Dynamics -- that the division "cannot spend 30-plus percent of our resources on things that take ten years," adding that "there's some time frame that we need to be generating an amount of revenue that covers expenses and (that) needs to be a few years."

Toyota and Amazon, which each have significant investments in robotics, are tabbed as likely acquirers.



Boston Dynamics, thrust into the public consciousness through YouTube videos of its quadruped robots, was acquired by Google in 2013. The focus has since shifted toward humanoid robots, which is said to have caused some concern among Google's public relations staff.

"There's excitement from the tech press, but we're also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans' jobs," Google X spokeswoman Courtney Hohne is said to have told colleagues. She added that the group would not "want to trigger a whole separate media cycle about where BD really is at Google."

It's not clear if the Boston Dynamics sale is representative of a larger drawdown in robotics research at Google, or whether the company is simply focusing its resources on what it views as more achievable goals.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    Ha, that was quick.
    tallest skilbrakken
  • Reply 2 of 38
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    sog35 said:
    LOL.

    but, but, but, but, Apple Watch is a failure.....only sold 12 million units in its first year.....

    Another multi-billion loss for Google.  Add this to the Motorola disaster and soon to be Nest disaster.
    Certainly doesn't look good to do these big splashy aquisitions only to sell them off a few years later, especially for management. I also wonder if companies may consider when Google comes calling. Probably not for most, as money talks, still it certainly won't help. 
    badmonk
  • Reply 3 of 38
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member
    FAIL 

    Google is becoming worried that their revenue isn't solid enough. 
    badmonk
  • Reply 4 of 38
    Another Google Failure. So predictable. When Google tries something unrelated to ads, it fails. Where Google succeeds: 1. Ads 2. Search (provides ad revenue) 3. Maps (provides ad revenue) 4. Mail (leads to targeted ad revenue) 5. Android (provides a platform for ad revenue) Robots don't provide ad revenue. And it also shows how Google doesn't think long-term since it doesn't want to wait 10 years to produce revenue from a project. And it also doesn't want the negative publicity of replacing people's jobs. Cars don't provide ad revenue. The recent crash certainly questions their safety. Google killing users is bad news. Autonomous cars have to work perfectly. But Google doesn't do perfect.
    anantksundaramclemynxpatchythepiratemrmarkdemaiomacky the mackybadmonkcornchip
  • Reply 5 of 38
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,944member
    sog35 said:
    91% of Google's revenue is from Ads.  And Wall Street calls Apple a one trick pony.  What a fricken joke.

    Alphabet's non-Google related revenue was a pathetic $448 million last year.  This includes revenue from Nest, Google Fiber, Verily (the company trying to solve immortality, seriously), GoogleX, Boston Robotics, and Google Car.  That is absolutely pathetic.  That is less revenue then what AppleWatch did in ONE MONTH.  Yet Wall Street says AppleWatch was a failure.  Even though AppleWatch did about $4 billion in revenue last year versus $448 million for all of Google's other bets companies.

    Even worse Google's other bets companies lost $4.2 BILLION last year.

    That is why Google is selling Boston Robotics.  They are trying to stop the bleeding. Yet Wall Street gives Google a pass for losing almost $20 billion the last 3 years from their side projects (included the Motorola disaster) that have netted close to ZERO revenue.
    Alpha_et
  • Reply 6 of 38
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    watching the video...don't make it angry!!
  • Reply 7 of 38
    sog35 said:
    91% of Google's revenue is from Ads.  And Wall Street calls Apple a one trick pony.  What a fricken joke.
    All the money Google is making has something to do with ads or selling user data and statistics.
    They just need to find a way they can use their robots to sell ads and user stats.

    My proposal:
       "The revolutionary new traveling robo-salesman!"
       "You will hear the gears and hydraulics grinding before we knock on your door!"
    macky the macky
  • Reply 8 of 38
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,008member
    There are hundreds of teams making robots around the world. What is so special about BD that Alphabet acquired for hundreds of millions dollars?
    Sir_Turkey
  • Reply 9 of 38
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,018member
    clemynx said:
    FAIL 

    Google is becoming worried that their revenue isn't solid enough. 

    That and Boston Dynamics lost their DARPA funding for that mule project. Infantryman didn't want it carrying their gear when it was so loud the enemy could hear them coming from quite a distance. I'm glad the government is no long funding playtime at our expense. 
    mrmarkdemaiomacky the mackybrakkenbadmonkcornchip
  • Reply 10 of 38
    Boston Dynamics was on the right track but their problem was SCALE! They should have been thinking Gundam, AT-AT, Jaeger...
    brakken
  • Reply 11 of 38
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,404member
    Apple could buy it for a song (although the Bloomberg story says both Toyota and Amazon may be interested).
  • Reply 12 of 38
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 592member
    After watching the video, it's good to know that if I strike a robot with a hockey stick it won't snap my neck. Yet. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 13 of 38
    I believe Google wanted to sell those robots to the military but they proved too noisy and couldn't handle all the various types of conditions the military needed. I doubt there's much of a call for robot dogs and robot horses in many other markets. There's no way Google could make any significant amount of money from them in the near-term. It's not going to temper Wall Street's love for Google, though. There's all those other projects Google has and they're supposedly going to be such "awesome" money-makers in the future. Besides, if Apple starts supporting Google's cloud services, that should be very helpful to Google's revenue. It also annoys me how Apple is supporting Google's cloud services because Wall Street praises and values Google far more than it does Apple. Apple should be creating its own cloud services and leave both Google and Amazon out in the cold. Wall Street considers everything Apple does as a making a poor decision and I don't understand why. Because some venture doesn't pay off in huge amounts the first year or so? No company is that good to always make every product or service pay off in huge amounts of revenue and profits right from the start.
    badmonkcornchip
  • Reply 14 of 38
    sog35 said:
    LOL.

    but, but, but, but, Apple Watch is a failure.....only sold 12 million units in its first year.....

    Another multi-billion loss for Google.  Add this to the Motorola disaster and soon to be Nest disaster.
    How do you figure Motorola was a disaster? They developed some amazing models at fair prices, creating another major and more importantly, pure, Android handset manufacturer. And if you think the price they paid was to much, just do the maths - they took several billion in cash, several billion in deferred taxes, sold off a couple of divisions for a couple of billion, kept the patents and sold it for the balance. They buy companies, try some things, sometimes keep them and sometimes don't. Look at some of the successful ones - Youtube, Picassa (now Photos), Keyhole (became Earth then Maps), Android, Waze. I wouldn't say Google is a company like, e.g. HP or even Microsoft that overpays then writes them off a couple of years later.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,106member
    sog35 said:
    LOL.

    but, but, but, but, Apple Watch is a failure.....only sold 12 million units in its first year.....

    Another multi-billion loss for Google.  Add this to the Motorola disaster and soon to be Nest disaster.
    Well at least add it up for us to show how many multi-billions they're losing with the BD sale. How much did they pay for them to begin with, how much revenue have they brought in, how much has been spent on 'em since and how much is Google selling them for? Who's the buyer and does Google keep any of the assets? What about the six other robotics companies? 
    edited March 2016 singularity
  • Reply 16 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,106member

    I believe Google wanted to sell those robots to the military but they proved too noisy and couldn't handle all the various types of conditions the military needed. 
    Nope. They severed any Boston Dynamics military ties as soon as the roughly $11M contract they inherited ran out, and before that declined a different multi-million dollar contract offer from DARPA. Google had no intention of working with the military.
    edited March 2016 singularity
  • Reply 17 of 38
    Can't say that I am very surprised. Boston Dynamics always seemed like one of Andy Rubin's babies. Now that Rubin is gone, sell it off. No doubt Google has picked over the bones of useful tech from BD.

    It always seemed like an odd fit, Google buying Boston Dynamics. I couldn't figure out where they were going with it. I suppose there is plenty of tech that might translate to the self driving car.

    One thing is clear, Google didn't want any part of a large money source, military contracts - which seems to be a bit of a gravy train for BD.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    why-why- Posts: 305member
    Boston Dynamics was on the right track but their problem was SCALE! They should have been thinking Gundam, AT-AT, Jaeger...

    yes because there's nothing more practical than a 20 metre tall 4-legged troop carrier :D
  • Reply 19 of 38
    Last I heard, several years ago, the percent of wasted dollars the search/ads part of Google had to offset was like 10% for the "wild hair" projects. This article was throwing around a 30% number. YIKES!

    If innovation comes up with a Spotlight/Siri way of searching without needing Google, that Schmidt house of cards will all fall down. 

    cornchip
  • Reply 20 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,106member
    Last I heard, several years ago, the percent of wasted dollars the search/ads part of Google had to offset was like 10% for the "wild hair" projects. This article was throwing around a 30% number. YIKES!

    If innovation comes up with a Spotlight/Siri way of searching without needing Google, that Schmidt house of cards will all fall down. 

    30% of the budget set aside for the the start-up robotics segment (Replicant) if I'm reading right. Not 30% of Google's overall R&D. There's a number of robotics projects underway at Google and the engineers with the Boston Dynamics branch were being less than team players according to news reports. Supposedly that's why they seen as dispensable. 
    edited March 2016
Sign In or Register to comment.