The incubator will be called "Area 120," a reference to the 20 percent of work time that Google employees can spend on side projects. CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed the news to Forbes; later, VP Bradley Horowitz tweeted that he will be involved in the project. That's all the company has revealed for now, leaving some of the rumored details first reported by The Information open to speculation.
The real question is whether making a company farm system will help retain talent and innovation, since startups could leave for outside investment with potentially fewer strings than they'd have working within Google. Other big companies have recognized the value that startup thinking brings to the table, but have halfheartedly supported internal restructuring to embrace new methods. For example, Sony's "First Flight" program and a similar one by LG have both spun out external ideas to sink or swim in their own crowdfunding campaigns, while Samsung made overtures toward embracing startup culture but few concrete decisions.