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Google Talks to Katerra, Other Startups for On-Campus Apartments

Google is considering whether to hire one of an emerging group of construction startups to build thousands of apartments it is planning for employees and others in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a letter it sent to startups and real estate developers this month. If Google goes ahead, it would give a big lift to the startups, which are trying to popularize the idea of assembling apartments in factories.

Google executives have spoken with representatives of Katerra, one of the leading startups in the field which has raised about $1.1 billion from SoftBank, DFJ and Foxconn, about building housing in its home town of Mountain View, according to people familiar with the matter. But Google is canvassing the field more broadly. In a request for proposals sent to startups this month seen by The Information, Google asks for details on their methods. Among the questions: how they transport parts of buildings to their destinations, how they use construction software and their approaches to using union labor.

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“Google believes that the standard construction process has room for improvement to result in better buildings that take less time and cost less to build.”