The company’s two-year-old venture arm, Google Ventures, is expanding, doubling its annual fund to a $200 million target this year, from $100 million last year. It is also expanding into the second floor of its building in Mountain View, Calif., now with seven investing partners and 31 people total, including partners specifically assigned to work on fields such as design, engineering, recruiting and marketing. The firm has 70 portfolio companies, and has been very active, intending to do 100 seed deals this year, in addition to more traditional Series A, B or C investments.
A number of corporate venture arms invest “strategically”—that is, only in companies that provide a benefit to the mother ship. For example, in Intel Capital’s case, that means companies that somehow drive chip sales. But Google Ventures invests in ideas that are in no way connected to Google’s search engine or any of its Internet products.
So why is Google so invested in this type of venture fund? The company wants to invest in innovation, and just generally likes to have entrepreneurs hanging around, said Google Ventures founding managing partner Bill Maris in an interview. The company wants that kind of energy and activity to keep it in an entrepreneurial mindset, despite its growth to 28,000 employees. Google Ventures is focused broadly on innovation and generating a financial return, and does not seek to otherwise benefit Google, Maris said. The firm has had two exits: vacation rental website HomeAway went public in June and gaming company Ngmoco was acquired by DeNA for $400 million in October. Another portfolio company, smart grid company Silver Spring Networks, filed to go public in July.