Google Ventures’ One Year “Check in”



We all know that Google is on a buying / investing spree of sorts. Google Ventures was announced last year and Andy Beal took a look at the fine print for us. Now a year later, the Google Ventures team is moving right along with plans to invest $100 million this year.

Yesterday Google invited reports to the Internet’s equivalent of a high holy place, the Googleplex, for more information. Venturebeat tells us:

Reporters asked company chief executive Eric Schmidt and Google Ventures partners about the kinds of startups the firm is interested in, but they refused to be pinned down to a specific industry, trend, or stage of investment. It’s better to lead the firm into new areas than to jump on a bandwagon like mobile applications, Schmidt said. If anything, Google is more interested in investing in smart people.

“Eventually, venture returns are all correlated with the people you invest in,” he said.

The one distinction that Schimdt drew was that Google Ventures is a venture firm, not a private equity firm. So it wants to invest in risky, big-opportunity startups with disruptive technologies, not just anyone. And where Google often aims to be disruptive itself when it enters a new industry, Schmidt said the company doesn’t plan to rewrite the traditional venture capital model, which he called “a phenomenal achievement of America.” The financial structure on deals is pretty similar to other firms.

Schmidt pointed out that by getting involved with Google venture targets can benefit from the 20,000 Google employees and their wonderful minds. This is a distinct advantage that Google holds over any other venture firm. Schmidt and managing partner Bill Maris also pointed out.

Google isn’t approaching the venture firm as a stealth pipeline for its acquisitions. While the two divisions communicate, they’re run separately, and there’s no requirement that a Google Ventures company can’t sell to a competitor like Microsoft or Apple.

Trying to explain how Google Ventures operates in relation to the larger company, Maris said: “Google is like the sun, and we’re like one of the planets that orbit the sun. That gravity has a lot of influence.”

Wow. Google as the sun. Well, we all know that the world revolves around Google. I wonder what kind of deal the sun struck with Google and if it got the “short end of the stick”?

The official Google blog puts the final touches on the ethos of Google Ventures (which also rolled out a new web site as well).

Google Ventures is an expression of our optimism in the future and the belief that looking for, supporting and fostering innovation is worthwhile. We don’t know where the next great idea will come from, but with the help of many Googlers, great co-investors and a growing team, we’re going to keep looking while working to help entrepreneurs succeed.

I don’t know about you but I’m getting misty reading this. Thanks Google for making the world a better place ;-).