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Google Investing in Robotics Effort Led by Former Android Chief

December 04, 2013

Google Investing in Robotics Effort Led by Former Android Chief

Andy Rubin, SVP at Google Inc., at the New Economy Summit 2013 hosted by the Japan Association of New Economy in Tokyo, Japan. Rubin will now be heading robotics projects at Google. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) has acquired seven companies for a robotics project led by Andy Rubin, former head of the Android software unit, as the world’s largest online search provider pushes beyond its roots.

The effort, which includes purchases of companies in Japan and the U.S., comes after Rubin stepped down in March from Android, which he built into a leading mobile smartphone operating system. Under Rubin, Android surged ahead of Apple Inc.’s iOS software for mobile devices to command 70 percent of the operating systems on smartphones.

“I am excited about Andy Rubin’s next project,” Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page said in a post that linked to an article by the New York Times discussing Rubin’s robotics endeavor. “His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets. It is still very early days for this, but I can’t wait to see the progress.”

Google, based in Mountain View, California, has expanded into new areas as it looks for ways to boost revenue and keep its edge as an innovative company to help woo top talent. The projects include computerized eyeglasses, driverless cars and broadband communications. While some of these ventures haven’t delivered much revenue, Page has underscored the importance of research in driving future trends.

“We applaud the ‘moonshot’ mentality and culture,” Benjamin Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities USA Inc., said in a note to clients. “We believe that despite potential failures of particular initiatives and investments, overall, there are financial benefits for investors from these efforts.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at

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