Google Labs is back, but this time around, it’s not a consumer-facing brand delivering a range of experimental products. Instead, it’s the internal name given to a new team at Google created under a reorganization that aims to gather the company’s many innovative projects and long-term bets under one roof. The new group will be led by Clay Bavor, a veteran Googler and VP whose most recent role has seen him leading the company’s forward-looking efforts in virtual and augmented reality, including its cutting-edge holographic videoconferencing project known as Project Starline.
Bavor will lead the new organization that will contain Google’s existing AR and VR efforts, its futuristic Starline, its in-house incubator called Area 120, as well as any other “high-potential, long-term” projects. He will report directly to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Launched in 2016, Area 120 was envisioned as a way to better retain entrepreneurial-minded talent at Google, while giving teams the ability to test out new ideas while still having access to Google’s data, products, and resources.
Over the years, the organization has cranked out a number of successful projects and exits, including the HTML5 gaming platform for emerging markets called GameSnacks, now integrated with Google Chrome in some countries; the technical interview platform Byteboard, a rare external spinout; an AirTable rival called Tables which exited to Google Cloud; an A.I.-powered conversational ads…