Alphabet is shutting down Loon. You could be forgiven for not knowing Loon was even a thing that existed for Alphabet to shut down. Forgive the incredibly uncreative pun, but Loon never really got off the ground.
Astro Teller detailed the triumphs and struggles of Loon on his blog, reminding us what Loon was, and why.
“When we unveiled Loon in June 2013, we meant everything in its name. It was a way-out-there and risky venture. Not just fragile-balloons-on-the-edge-of-space risky, but risky at the core of the question it was asking. Could this be the radical idea that might finally bring abundant, affordable Internet access, not just to the next billion, but to the last billion? To the last unconnected communities and those least able to pay?”
I have very little knowledge of Loon and point you instead to Teller’s blog post and the Wikipedia page on Loon.
What interests me is this very public act of shutting down a startup. The folks who worked on Loon were probably very, very successful and smart, otherwise they wouldn’t have made it into X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, in the first place.
And yet, even for them, this one didn’t work out.
I’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss with my son recently, including Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
You’ll be on y our way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
The good news, and it is good news, is that shutting down Loon liberates everyone to work on something else.
When things aren’t going well, inertia can keep us tethered (again with the puns) to fruitless endeavors. Conceding failure is almost physically painful.
But I’ve found that once I make the decision to move on, all sorts of opportunities open up.
I expect that’s what will happen to the folks at Loon, and we’ll all be better off for it. Them most especially.