How to Win Google's Backing
Want Google’s money? A sweet spot for Google Ventures’ managing partner is where the cloud meets genome sequencing.
That’s because the search giant’s venture capital arm is looking for entrepreneurs "who have a big vision, tackling big problems with the potential to have big, positive impacts on the world," managing partner Bill Maris told the San Francisco Chronicle. He thinks genome sequencing is the future of cancer treatment, sequencing generates massive data, and the cloud is a great place to store it – "so the intersection of the cloud and sequencing is a pretty interesting place."
Not that curing cancer – or helping to cure cancer – is your only option if you want Google backing: The fund, launched in 2009, also has some gaming company investments, he noted.
In under three years, the fund has invested in some 75 companies, ranging from antibody discovery to weather insurance. A sampling: Ngomoco, a creator of iPhone games (bought by a Japanese social game developer for $400 million in November 2010); vacation home book service HomeAway, which went public in an offering that valued it at more than $3 billion in June 2010; and most recently: Enterproid, the developer of a platform that lets users maintain separate professional and personal profiles on a single Android device. (See a complete list here.)
In the next year, the $200 million fund expects to invest in some 100 companies.
What does a Google investment bring besides money? (You’re not required to use Google products, for one.) Help sourcing great engineering candidates, if that’s what you need. Access to what Maris described as one of the world’s best user experience researchers, who can advise you on how users actually interact with your products. And the fund has redesigned nine of its portfolio companies websites, products, and mobile apps "from the ground up," this year, Mari said. "These sorts of things have made huge impacts on the companies we’re working with."
Maris brushed aside a Wall Street Journal article suggesting that financing was harder to come by.
"It's not a sports game where we can check the score," he said. "There's always a part of the market in a bubble, whether it's nanotech or mobile. There are also parts that are underpriced, where people aren't paying attention. That's what makes a market."
His assessment: "If you've got a great idea, I know lots of venture capitalists that would like to fund you."
Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.