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Google’s parent company is letting its geothermal energy startup, Dandelion, become an independent company

Wait, Alphabet was working on geothermal energy?

Global - Standalone Images Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Geothermal startup Dandelion has left Alphabet’s moonshot accelerator X to become its own company outside of Alphabet.

Yes, X was working on geothermal energy, and no, you’re not crazy for thinking you had never heard about this. X had never spoken about Dandelion’s work publicly.

Dandelion CEO Kathy Hannun told Recode the company decided to strike out on its own because there wasn’t enough overlap between its technology and that of other parts of Alphabet to justify remaining a part of Google’s parent company.

Dandelion’s purpose is to make it easier and more affordable to install geothermal energy systems for homes, and the company relies largely on drilling technology.

“But as you can imagine, drilling technology is not a core focus of Alphabet,” said Hannun, who started at Google seven years ago before joining X.

This is in contrast to Waymo, the self-driving subsidiary of Alphabet that started at X and that incorporates machine learning, mapping and other technologies widely used at Alphabet.

There is one area within Alphabet where Dandelion has some clear overlap: Smart home appliances company Nest, which produces a smart thermostat aimed at curbing home energy use.

Hannun said Dandelion has no official relationship with Nest at this time. “We’re friendly with Nest. It’s possible we’ll work with them in the future,” she said.

Dandelion has raised a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Fund, according to Hannun.

Alphabet owns some equity in the company in exchange for time, resources and funding it gave Dandelion while the company was developing within X, according to Hannun. She declined to state how much, and X declined to comment on any financial arrangements with Dandelion.

Dandelion is the first company to emerge from X since Waymo left it to become a subsidiary of Alphabet.

Most graduates of X have grown into either subsidiaries of Alphabet or their technology has been integrated into Google’s. One other X project to become its own independent company is construction software startup

Dandelion will first launch in New York state. This is by design. Geothermal systems “are most useful in climates with cold winters and hot summers, because there’s a large variation in temperature between the ground and the air,” Hannun wrote in a blog post.

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