Funding Start-ups, Google Style

Google-flavored venture capitalists

Many people don’t know that Google has a venture-capital arm that invests in promising new start-up companies.  Google likes to do things its own way, and this investment company within a company, dubbed “Google Ventures,” puts a new, Google-flavored spin on the traditional art of the deal.

As you might expect from Google, data-crunching and algorithms play a large role in the way GV selects which business startup to help. It’s not all about the numbers, though, as one of the GV partners explained to the New York Times. He said that intuition still plays a part, that GV wants to invest in founders they believe in, not in companies founded by “jerk[s].”

Five years ago

Google Ventures launched on March 30, 2009, with the intention of finding and encouraging the growth of start-up companies with “truly awesome potential.”

GV backs businesses in many different sectors, including

  • Consumer Internet

  • Software

  • Mobile apps

  • Clean tech

  • Transportation

  • Energy

  • Bio-tech

  • Health care

Notable successes

Among the 255 companies that GV has backed are notable successes. A brief sample:

  • Nest reimagines smoke detectors and thermostats. Google acquired Nest in 2014.

  • Uber creates mobile apps that connect drivers and riders in cities.

  • RetailMeNot is a hugely popular coupon site.

  • 23andMe analyzes DNA to help individuals understand their own genetic makeup.

  • Upstart is itself a funding source, specializing in investing in student startup companies and businesses founded by recent graduates.

  • Astrid is a mobile app social to-do list. Yahoo acquired Astrid in 2013.

More than just money

It takes more than money for a company to reach its full potential, and Google does more than provide funding to the companies in its portfolio. It offers a wide range of expert support to give startups the best possible chances of success.

Although GV operates independently of Google, it has full access to Google’s people and other resources. Companies in GV’s portfolio get exclusive opportunities to attend workshops and other special events led by Google employees. GV partners share their expertise, guiding companies in design, recruiting, marketing and data analysis.

You can watch some of the workshops for yourself right now on the Google Ventures YouTube Channel.

What’s next for GV?

GV had a great year in 2013, funding 75 new companies, and it continues to energetically seek out promising new companies to add to its portfolio.

VentureBeat sat down with Google Ventures general partner David Krane to discuss GV’s plans for 2014. When asked which industry sectors GV would be most interested in pursuing for the coming year, he said that mix of sectors would be about the same as it has been for the past two years. He did, however, specifically mention that GV is now interested in mobile, life sciences and “computationally intensive” health companies.


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