Why Google isn't investing in Larry Page's flying car startups

Don’t expect Google to jump on the flying-car bandwagon anytime soon.

On stage at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Bill Maris, CEO of Alphabet’s venture capital firm Google Ventures, called off any speculation that Google will pour money into Larry Page’s top-secret flying car startups, dubbed Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk.

“It’s not the kind of thing we would target as a venture investment,” Maris says. “You see how difficult it is for Uber to just get cars out to everyone, much less flying cars.”

The two companies made headlines last week when Bloomberg broke the news they belong to Page, Google’s. He has personally funded Zee.Aero, located just down the road from the Googleplex, since its launch in 2010.

Both companies are on a mission to revolutionise personal aviation. Zee.Aero wants to build a small, all-electric plane capable of taking off and landing vertically, while Kitty Hawk is working on something that resembles a massive quadcopter drone.

Bill maris pressGoogle VenturesBill Maris.

Maris says he learned about the projects in the media, like everyone else.

While flying cars fall into line with Google’s other “moonshot” technologies, including self-driving cars and delivery drones, Maris says they lie outside the firm’s priorities.

“Our investment horizon is different from Larry’s,” says Maris. “Our investment criteria are different from Larry’s.”

While Uber’s self-driving cars may hit the road as early as 2016, flying cars are years away. Maris wants returns from his portfolio companies sooner than that.

“I don’t think Larry makes those investments thinking this is three or five years out. I think he — my guess is, he thinks this is something that should or will happen. ‘And if [Larry doesn’t] push it forward, who’s going to?'”

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