Google Ventures emerged from stealth mode Monday, officially announcing its team of partners and unveiling a website with detailed info about the fund. While the fund managers insist no specific sector, stage or theme will characterize its investment strategy, a look at the portfolio suggests a few themes.
First, the official line: CEO Eric Schmidt indicated that the company’s brain trust provides a unique value-add to startups. “Google Ventures can tap thousands of [employees] and understand the subtleties” he said at a press conference Monday. “The average venture firm doesn’t have access to that knowledge. That’s probably the nicest way to say that.” The fund wants to find companies they are in a unique position to help. And Google specializes in two things: data analysis and contextual advertising.
Google’s signature specialty from Day 1 has been analyzing huge amounts of data to create smart algorithms, and the portfolio reflects that. English Central, for example, analyzes users’ recorded voices to show them where they’re making pronunciation mistakes. Recorded Future extracts time and event information from the Web and analyzes it to predict future events. Smartgrid startup Silver Spring Networks and human antibody discovery platform Adimab fit this mold as well.
The portfolio also includes several AdSense analogues. Pixazza lets publishers tag products in images on their sites and link those products to retailers via their ad network. The company takes a cut of advertising and affiliate revenues. OpenCandy offers an ad network for consumer applications, where developers can integrate advertising (recommendations) into the install process of their software. VigLink is an ad network for hyperlinks. These models make sense for the fund, given Google’s expertise as a contextual advertising pioneer.
Below is a list of all known investments with the companies’ own boilerplates:
Adimab The first fully integrated, yeast-based antibody discovery platform
Corduro offers a range of payment services for Internet, mobile, and traditional retail transactions.
English Central is a language learning platform, which uses high quality Web content, like speeches from President Obama or clips from popular movies, to teach English. Its unique language learning software allows users to hear themselves speaking, and shows them exactly where they’re making pronunciation mistakes.
OpenCandy exists to solve distribution, monetization and discovery problems in the consumer application space. OpenCandy’s first product is an ad network for consumer applications.
Pixazza converts static images into interactive content by revealing the “products in the picture” across popular Web sites.
Recorded Future extracts time and event information from the Web. Recorded Future offers customers new ways to analyze the past, present and the predicted future.
SCVNGR is a geo-gaming platform that lets anyone (individual or institutional) build location-based mobile games, tours, and interactive experience that can be played by anyone on any mobile device.
Silver Spring Networks is a leading smart grid solutions provider. Its hardware, software, and services help utilities reduce carbon emissions, operate more efficiently, and empower their customers with new ways to monitor and manage their energy consumption.
VigLink is a tool for publishers of all sizes to make monetization of their outbound links effortless, transparent and honest.
V-Vehicle is a new American car company that is introducing a safe, high-quality, fuel-efficient, and well-equipped car for the U.S. market. Designed and built in America, V Car makes green affordable for the masses.