Google is now into the business of shipping and receiving your goods.
Despite being called the search giant, Google is doing much more than just serving web queries these days. Besides helping to make smartphones, tablets, operating systems and even acting as a full internet service provider, Google has taken the first step in becoming a shipping company with the acquisition of BufferBox.
If you haven't yet heard of BufferBox, you still may be familiar with the company's product concept. Amazon has been rolling out shipment lockers in various retail stores across the U.S. and UK. The service allows customers to have their packages shipped to these lockers rather than to their home. BufferBox provides a similar sort of service, but it's open to everyone – not just a specific retailer.
BufferBox is a Waterloo, Ontario startup operation born out of the Communitech Hub facilities, one of the top startup houses in North America, and was founded by Jay Shah, Mike McCauley and Aditya Bali. We visited their offices on Monday and BufferBox was hard at work in a University of Waterloo-funded space called VeloCity Garage. The acquisition will see BufferBox into Google's local offices, but it won't be a far move as – believe it or not – Google's Canadian offices are located on an upper floor of the same building.
Close proximity likely played a role in Google's purchase of BufferBox, but whatever exposure it gave the startup, the location also allows the new parent to keep an eye on the development of its acquisition. Then again, perhaps BufferBox would have garnered attention regardless of where its roots were. The BufferBox team went through the famed Y Combinator program in Silicon Valley and made the conscious decision to return to Canada to launch their business.
BufferBox has already rolled out its "smart mailboxes" at major transit stations in the Greater Toronto Area. In the short term, the company plans to expand its operations to 100 locations in the GTA and Hamilton – where its sorting facility is – by the end of 2013.
Where BufferBox will go next is wherever Google decides to take them.