The company is taking small steps in other regions, and this month began to offer free WiFi to the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Its chief financial officer said in an earnings conference call this week that the firm thinks its foray into telecommunications is “not a hobby” and will be a real business.
For new entrepreneurs here, Google’s motives don’t matter. The faster and cheaper service opens up opportunities.
EyeVerify, a security software firm, was in a part of the city where AT&T was the only Internet service provider, offering maximum speeds of 5 megabits per second for $80 a month.
That turned the company’s daily tests of its software into a hair-pulling exercise in patience. The firm uses an individual’s unique eyeball vein patterns to secure smartphones and other devices.
But sending files with thousands of high-definition photos of eyeballs took hours to deliver and required constant babysitting of outboxes to make sure files went through.
On a recent afternoon, founder Toby Rush sat in the firm’s new office space in Google’s Hanover Heights “fiberhood” and sent several of those files within minutes.
He quickly uploaded large documents and videos on the cloud for his staff of 11 to access.
“This allows us to spend time on things that are much more useful and essential for the business to grow,” said Rush, one of hundreds of residents and entrepreneurs who have signed up for Google’s service so far.
Nearby on this former industrial strip in Hanover Heights, a dozen other start-ups have taken refuge in Craftsman-style homes. All connected to Google’s network, they call themselves Kansas City Startup Village.
There is a “Home for Hackers,” donated by a local resident who lets entrepreneurs live and work there for free.
Investors are showing greater interest, too. A microfinance investment firm called Justine Petersen opened an office in the city last year with hopes of investing more in the burgeoning tech community. The St. Louis-based company is looking at creating another Home for Hackers.
“We see much untapped potential here. Google is the spark,” said Galen Gondolfi, a spokesman for Justine Petersen.
Such opportunities have attracted start-up hopefuls such as Payne, who moved from her home in Denver last month to live in the first hacker home. Building her CyberJammer software requires massive amounts of bandwidth, she said.