Behind the Scenes at Google Ventures: The Full Q&A with Bill Maris
Last week Google Ventures unveiled a new website that includes the first public information about its portfolio and its staff. Yesterday, as part of the fund’s first real media outreach campaign, managing partner Bill Maris and partner David Krane spent about 45 minutes speaking with reporters in Boston via teleconference.
I summed up the conversation in a few bullet points yesterday afternoon. But the discussion was so interesting that I wanted to supplement my summary with the full transcript of the conversation.
While there were several reporters participating in the call, almost all of the questions came from me and from Galen Moore, a reporter with Mass High Tech and the Boston Business Journal.
David Krane: Google Ventures, as you know, is Google’s venture capital arm. We have a presence on both coasts. We’re headquartered in Cambridge with four folks there. Of our 10 portfolio companies that we’ve announced publicly, three are in greater Boston. Those are SCVNGR, a company that builds scavenger huts for mobile platforms; a data analytics and visualization company called Recorded Future; and in Lexington, MA, English Central, which helps non-English speakers how to speak English using online videos and clever technologies. Also, in New Hampshire, we have Adimab in the life sciences space. I’ll hand the call to Bill to start from the beginning and talk about the great progress in the last year.
Bill Maris: I’m originally from Burlington, VT, so I’m glad to talk with you there in Boston. When I joined Google Ventures just over two years ago, it was based on the idea of starting a Google venture fund, and trying to figure out what that would look like and how it would work. Over the last two years, we’ve made a lot of progress, not only on figuring that out but executing on that. We’ve detailed on the site who we’ve added and a number of companies that we’ve added since we officially announced the fund last March.
The job is to find best-of-breed entrepreneurs and startups and do careful, thoughtful due diligence and execute on the ones we are most excited about, and do everything we can to help those companies succeed once we’ve made the investment, which includes bringing to bear Google’s resources, including human capital and technical resources. That has been a large part of my job, and the value proposition that we bring to startups is an equally straightforward one. We’re putting together a team of seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, subject matter experts, and technology experts whose mission is to help those companies succeed. And with that comes Google Ventures’ commitment to those entrepreneurial organizations going forward. That is what we have been executing on and it’s been a year since we publicly launched and it’s great to talk to you all.
Galen Moore, Mass High Tech: Who are the four people you mentioned in the Cambridge office?
BM: Rich Miner, Krishnan Yeshwant, and Scott Davis, who is contributing part-time while he completes his post-doc. So we have three people at a senior level in the Cambridge office. Luis Garcia was formerly at Google and then went to Harvard to complete his MBA. He’s finishing that this year and will be joining us full time starting in the summer.
MHT: The size of the Google Ventures fund has been reported as $100 million, but that’s never been confirmed. Can you talk about the size of the fund?
BM: Our aspirational goal is to invest at least $100 million a year into startups and new ventures. We don’t consider it a failure if we don’t get there. But we also have the ability to go beyond that if we see opportunities [that warrant it]. So, when people ask us about the fund size, it’s not a $100 million fund. That implies a set sized fund that is then rolled out over four years at say $25 million a year. This would imply a larger fund. In Silicon Valley terms it is probably on the order of … Next Page »