April 09, 2014      

Did I really read, five years!?

Now imagine Google?s browser suddenly available to millions who otherwise would be offline forever or making Facebook Friends in Botswana or reading the poet Christopher Okigbo?s Labyrinth for the first time or learning crop planting techniques etc., etc., etc. Such power!

With Facebook in talks with Titan and Google nosing around, the ground might soon be shaking in Silicon Valley as two behemoth suitors come knocking at Titan?s door.

What?s up?

SEEKING ALPHA:?In March 2014, Facebook was in talks to buy solar-powered drone maker Titan Aerospace for $60 million. These drones can be used for providing internet access in remote areas.

Google aims to provide internet access in remote areas using solar-powered air balloons.

Recently, Google has also shown interest in Titan Aerospace. If Google places an offer to acquire Titan Aerospace, then Facebook may end up paying more to acquire the company.

Connectivity from the sky

In March 2014, Facebook launched its Connectivity Lab project, which will work on the company’s Internet.org project. Connectivity Lab will compete with Google’s Loon project, as it aims to provide internet connectivity in remote areas using drones.


Last month, Facebook was in talks to acquire drone maker Titan Aerospace for $60 million. Titan Aerospace is developing solar-powered drones, with operations set to begin in 2015.

These drones can fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet, and remain aloft for up to five years. The high-flying drones could enable Facebook to provide Internet access to people in undeveloped parts of the world, especially in places like Africa.

In 2013, Google announced Project Loon, which aims to use solar-powered air balloons to provide Internet access to remote regions.

In April 2014, the company reported that its Wi-Fi broadcasting balloon, Ibis-167 circled the Earth in a record 22 days, below its estimate of 33 days. The below table shows the difference between Titan’s drone and Google’s air balloons on a couple of parameters:

The key arguments from Mark Zuckerberg’s whitepaper supporting solar-powered drones are:

1) Drones can be easily serviced, and returned to flight unlike balloons.

2) The location control of drones is better than balloons, which can enable internet access in remote areas.

3) The solar-powered drones can remain in the air for much longer periods than balloons.

Chris Sanz, CEO of Skycatch commented the following about drones:

Fixed-wing drones are more reliable when it comes to flying longer distance due to their low consumption of battery power. One danger I can think of is one of these drones falling into a populated area.

According to The Information, Google has also expressed interest in Titan Aerospace in the last few weeks. However, it is unclear how far the talks have proceeded. The big question that arises now is “What will Facebook do, if Google bids for Titan Aerospace?”

A possible bidding war?

By acquiring Titan Aerospace, Google will have two options of providing internet access in remote areas, depending upon population density, topography, weather conditions, and size of the area.

Facebook had valued Titan Aerospace at $75 million, while making the buyout offer of $60 million. If Google offers to acquire Titan Aerospace, then there is a possibility that Facebook may raise its offer. If

Facebook acquires Titan Aerospace at a very high price, then the next question that arises is the deal funding.

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