HTC has everything Google needs for an in-house Pixel from soup to nuts and they're hurting for money. Its a happy coincidence HTC is collapsing right when Google is getting serious about launching its own branded flagship phones.
I also suspect aggressive moves like this mean that Samsung is probably going to pull the trigger on a full Tizen move and eventually stop producing android phones. The Pixel is aimed right at Galaxy buyers. I'm skeptical this is just a coincidence. The agreement that Nexus was kinda, sorta a developer's phone and will always be hobbled by mid-range camera, battery, and storage seems to have ended with the Pixel line.
I just received a Pixel after my 6P died and its about the closest to iPhone quality I've seen on an Android device. Its clearly a serious attempt by Google to have a proper branded flagship.