Bill Maris Takes Stage for 2nd Act, Says New Fund Mostly Committed

[Corrected 9/1/17, 7 am. See below.] In his first public appearance since leaving Google Ventures, Bill Maris said Wednesday his new venture fund, Section 32, is nearly fully invested—less than four months after he officially unveiled its existence in the San Diego area.

In a keynote talk at a venture summit in San Diego, Maris said Section 32 already is laying the groundwork for a second fund. The firm closed its first fund in May at $160 million (Maris later confirmed the number) and has made investments in healthcare, cryptocurrency, and other sectors.

He provided few details beyond that, saying Section 32’s current “placeholder website” is being replaced, and information about some of the firm’s portfolio companies would be included in the built-out version—set for release in another week or so.

In his talk before the San Diego Venture Group, Maris provided an abridged version of his formative years as a neuroscience major at Middlebury College, and his education in technology and venture capital. Wade Roush laid much of this out for Xconomy in an extended interview with Maris in 2011, when the turbines at Google Ventures were still ramping up to warp speed.

As a venture investor, Maris is the first to admit he had the extraordinary good fortune of being at the right place at the right time, which was one of the key lessons he shared with the San Diego crowd. (Being in the right place for Maris, though, was no simple matter. He said his own hiring process at Google required 23 interviews.)

Bill Maris

Bill Maris, founder of venture fund Section 32 and former chief executive officer of GV, formerly Google Ventures, speaks during an interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. Maris founded the $100 million fund to which he’ll be the sole investor and will focus on biotech and health-care startups. Photographer: David Paul Morris (photo used with permission)

Now one question hovering above Maris is whether he can do it again—without Google. Another is whether San Diego, discounted in some quarters for its lifestyle culture, might somehow be the right place. This area is better known for its startup ecosystem in the life sciences than in technology, and Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), founded in 1985, continues to serve as the most-notable hometown success.

Maris told the San Diego audience he wants to support the innovation ecosystem in Southern California, and he has agreed to collaborate with the Alliance for Southern California Innovation, which former Qualcomm executive Steve Poizner has been organizing.

But exactly what that means will remain unclear until Section 32 reveals more information about the investments it has made and Poizner lays out more details about his initiative. While Section 32 will be looking for deals in Southern California, Maris said they also are looking to make investments in transformational technologies wherever they may find them. He also said pointedly that he only takes meetings with startup founders that … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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