Niantic Labs separates from Google to go it alone

Google's Niantic Labs, the company behind the augmented reality game Ingress, will become an independent company as it becomes the first to split from parent company Google.

Niantic Labs, the Google-created startup known for its augmented reality role-playing game Ingress, announced on Thursday that it was separating from its parent conglomerate to become an independent company.

According to an Ingress Google+ post, San Francisco-based Niantic Labs said that it intends to build on the success of Ingress, which the company said has been downloaded more than 12 million times and attracted over 250,000 people to its worldwide live events.

"We'll be taking our unique blend of exploration and fun to even bigger audiences with some amazing new partners joining Google as collaborators and backers," the company said.

"[Ingress] has inspired users to collectively walk the distance from the earth to the sun while playing, exploring and discovering."

The separation of Google's internal startup comes in the wake of the search engine giant creating a new parent holding company, Alphabet.

At the beginning of the week, Google filed plans with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for the new public holding company, which Google will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of.

As part of the announcement Google also reshuffled its leadership structure, appointing Sundar Pichai as CEO, replacing co-founder Larry Page. According to Page, who will take up a new role as CEO at Alphabet, the new structure will allow for long-term ambitious bets, better investment, and focus at Google.

So far, Niantic Labs is the first company to separate, but earlier this week Page hinted that a YouTube independence could be on the cards.

"Google also has some services that are run with their own identity, like YouTube. Susan [Wojcicki] is doing a great job as CEO, running a strong brand and driving incredible growth," he wrote.

Last month Google announced that its social networking platform Google+ was preparing to go through a number of feedback-based changes, starting with the removal of forced cross-platform posting between Google+ and YouTube.

The search engine giant announced that it was going to put "everything in its right place" in a blog post, admitting that past decisions were not necessarily the best.

"When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life," vice president of streams, photos, and sharing Bradley Horowitz said at the time. "While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we've needed to rethink."