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Google parent company Alphabet ends support for Makani kite-power project

Alphabet acquired Makani in 2013.

Kite-power company Makani will no longer be part of Alphabet.

Alphabet, Google's parent company, is letting go of its power-generating kites company Makani, according to a Tuesday blog post by Makani CEO Fort Felker. It's the first project from X, Alphabet's moonshot factory, to be terminated since Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped aside as leaders in December, the Financial Times earlier reported.

Google acquired Makani, which developed airborne wind turbines and aimed to make wind energy more accessible and affordable, in 2013. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has reportedly been under pressure to cut losses from the company's Other Bets category, which includes projects such as X, self-driving car service Waymo and wireless broadband project Loon. Last year, Other Bets lost $4.8 billion, according to the Financial Times.

"After considering many factors, I believe that the road to commercial viability is a much longer and riskier road than we'd hoped and that it no longer makes sense for Makani to be an Alphabet company," Astro Teller, captain of moonshots at X and chairman of the Makani board, said in a statement.

Makani, which was founded in 2006, left X last year to become an independent company and began working with Shell in offshore environments. In the Tuesday blog post, Felker added: "This doesn't mean the end of the road for the technology Makani developed, but it does mean that Makani will no longer be an Alphabet company. Shell is exploring options to continue developing Makani's technology."

While most employees will leave Makani, Teller said, some will "stay on for a few months to package up what they've learned so others can build on it." 

Originally published Feb. 18, 2:25 p.m. PT.
Update, 2:56 p.m.: Adds comment and information from X.