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A Google Droid phone by HTC in 2010. Eric Risberg / AP

Google announced late Wednesday a $1.1 billion agreement under which certain employees of Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC will join Google. It's the second time the search giant has made a major investment in a mobile technology company to beef up its hardware business.

The details:

  • Certain HTC employees, many of whom have been working with Google on its Pixel smartphone line, will be joining Google, the company said.
  • The deal also includes an non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.
  • Google says the deal represents significant investment in Taiwan as a key tech hub.
  • HTC will continue to make its own brand of smartphones and build the virtual reality VIVE business.

Google and HTC have worked together before, such as the first Android smartphone, the Nexus 9 tablet and the first PIxel smartphone last year.

Future: Google's SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh said in a company blog post that "it's still early days for Google's hardware business" and it's focused on building its "core capabilities." The company's goal is to pair software like Google Assistant with a new line of devices.

Flashback: Five years ago, Google spent 12 times the price to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion. A couple years later, it dumped the company for just under $3 billion, while retaining Motorola's more than 17,000 patents to defend its Android products. Google said at the time that the patents made the deal worthwhile, despite what appeared to be a cultural mismatch and Google's ambivalence (at that point) about being in the phone making business.

The big question: How will Google make this deal pay off more than Motorola did?

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Omicron variant lifts Moderna's stock price — CDC strengthens COVID booster recommendation.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: Federal court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for health workers in 10 states — NYC urges masks indoors "at all times" regardless of vaccination status — New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

College football gone mad

Former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly walks in front of his players. Photo: David Madison/Getty Images

In the span of two days, the head coaches of two of the biggest college football programs in America have jumped ship, wooed by even greater challenges — and the almighty dollar.

Driving the news: Lincoln Riley is ditching Oklahoma for USC in a deal reportedly worth $110 million. LSU poached Brian Kelly from Notre Dame with a reported 10-year, $100 million contract.

Media startups anxiously await BuzzFeed’s stock market debut

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Digital media companies considering going public are watching BuzzFeed's expected stock market debut next week to see how investors will respond.

Why it matters: A slowdown in SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies) earlier this year pushed some digital media companies that were considering going public via SPAC IPOs away from the idea, such as Vice.