Google Founder’s Airship Company Takes The Stage

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While Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk go cyberpunk, Sergey Brin is more of a steampunk kinda guy.

On Thursday Bloomberg published a glossy feature on an airship company backed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The piece was authored by Ashlee Vance, a journalist well-versed in tech billionaires’ sky ambitions, since he wrote a seminal biography of Musk.

Whatever Floats Your Sky-Boat

Vance says that Brin’s company, Lighter Than Air (LTA), allowed him to observe the construction of their airship model the Pathfinder 1 over the past few years, which the company is preparing to unveil. The Pathfinder 1 is 400 feet long and attractively retro-chic, but there’s no indication yet when it might actually be able to grace the skies. It’ll have to undergo rigorous testing, not to mention relentless “oh, the humanity” jokes.

LTA has been quietly trundling along in the background for a while now, occasionally getting press attention. In 2020 it sold a 59-foot airship for just $18.70 (which is less silly than it sounds, it was sold for a nominal fee to an engineering professor who was working for LTA). This isn’t the first time a Google founder has tried to take to the sky:

  • Google co-founder Larry Page attempted to launch a flying car startup called Kittyhawk, but the venture shut down in October 2022.
  • Brin has also dipped his toe into the airship industry before, according to Vance. He spun up a company called Airship Ventures in 2008, but it ran out of money in 2012.

Shadow Sergey: Brin himself doesn’t actually appear in Vance’s writeup of LTA, although CEO Alan Weston details how the company hopes to one day “darken the skies” with its dirigibles, which he says could be used for hauling cargo as well as luxury cruises.

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