A mysterious four-story structure is being built atop a barge floating in the San Francisco Bay, and journalists say they are almost certain it is a new project being put together by Silicon Valley giant Google.
CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman first reported on the floating structure near the former Treasure Island Navy base on Friday, and since then a number of writers have joined in to speculate as to what could be in the works.
Google has not responded to multiple requests for comment made by CNET and others, but Terdiman says “it’s all but certain” that the search engine company is behind the mysterious structure.
Terdiman first reported last week the barge could be holding a sea-faring data center, noting that Google in fact patented the technology for such an endeavor years earlier and earned a place on Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2008” list as a result. Now a report courtesy of San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX 5 suggests that Google is perhaps working not on a new way to store information, but a space-age store of sorts.
“KPIX 5 has learned that Google is actually building a floating marketing center, a kind of giant Apple store, if you will — but for Google Glass, the cutting-edge wearable computer the company has under development,” the network reported this weekend.
According to top-secret sources who spoke with KPIX on condition of anonymity, “Google has spent millions” of dollars on the project, but have halted work in the last few weeks because the lack of a permit is preventing the company from parking the barge on the waterfront and completing further work.
“The law is crystal clear in this case: The Bay is not to be used for something that can be built on land,” San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Executive Director Larry Goldzband told KPIX.
After KPIX published their report, another anonymous source spoke to CNET’s Terdiman and added fuel to that speculative fire. A “well-connected” Silicon Valley insider, Terdiman said, claimed he had knowledge as well that the project would be a store of sorts, and was the brainchild of either Larry Page or Sergey Brin, both Google co-founders.
That isn’t to say, though, that the data center option has been entirely ruled out. Terdiman’s sources tell him that Google was “looking at putting together a data center, or really…a backup center, in case of some kind of natural disaster,” and such a project could be materialized in the latest operation currently unfolding in the body of water between San Francisco and Oakland.
When Teridman’s source — an independent marine engineer told CNET, “I know what that is. My God, I haven’t heard anything about this in years. So they are finally building this thing.'”
A lot has changed in five years’ time, though, and meanwhile all eyes and ears are on Google as the world waits to see if the company is indeed behind the mystery barge — and, of course, what purpose it has.