Alphabet, Teachers’ and Sidewalk Labs launch infrastructure holding company

Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and affiliate Sidewalk Labs are partnering with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to launch a new company that invests in North American infrastructure.

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Vacant lots in the Port Lands area, the future home of Sidewalk Labs in Toronto are shown on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Google affiliates Alphabet Inc. and Sidewalk Labs are partnering with the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan to launch a new company to invest in infrastructure. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj

TORONTO — Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and affiliate Sidewalk Labs are partnering with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to launch a new company that invests in North American infrastructure.

The spin-out of Sidewalk Labs called Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, plans to hold, operate and invest in advanced infrastructure for the digital age.

“Sidewalk Infrastructure will give cities an opportunity to deploy next-generation infrastructure,” said Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff in a statement.

The company will focus on five areas including advanced mobility, energy, water and waste, digital infrastructure and social infrastructure.

The infrastructure could include technology-enabled systems for stormwater management, neighbourhood-scale heating and cooling, advanced traffic controls and other initiatives like the ones that Sidewalk Labs hopes to deploy at the Quayside side on Toronto’s waterfront.

“Sidewalk Infrastructure will play an important role in Sidewalk Labs’ ecosystem of products, financing, and development too make cities more inclusive and sustainable,” said Doctoroff.

The new venture will help transform infrastructure through the use of technology, Olivia Steedman, senior managing director of the Teachers’ Innovation Platform said in a statement.

“We will bring our infrastructure and investment expertise to the table, while leveraging our partners’ world-leading capabilities in technology, to enable sustainable, intelligent and efficient physical infrastructure.”

The company’s co-CEO’s are Brian Barlow, who will be based in its Silicon Valley office, and Jonathan Winer, who lives in New York.

Sidewalk Infrastructure’s launch comes as Waterfront Toronto continues to evaluate Sidewalk Labs’ proposal for Quayside and the eastern waterfront, which included a $1.3-billion spending commitment from the company.

The proposal, which would see Sidewalk develop both Quayside and a separate eight hectare site, has come under criticism for overstepping the criteria set out by Waterfront Toronto.

Sidewalk has also faced wider criticism over concerns of data collection and monitoring as part of its plan for the waterfront development.

The company has recommended that an independent, government-sanctioned trust be established to set guidelines and oversee data collection, while also committing not to sell personal information or use it for advertising.

 

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press

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