Google Ventures: A Closely-Watched Wildcard

Google CEO Larry Page  Source: Wikimedia
Google CEO Larry Page Source: Wikimedia

The next venture capital era may be defined by an unusual player, and Silicon Valley isn’t sure what to think.

Google Ventures—with only one investor and a seemingly limitless supply of cash to play with—was the third most active venture capital investor last year, with 73 investments, according to DJX VentureSource. No other corporate venture firm ranked in the top ten. It trailed seed-funding firm 500 Startups and Andreessen Horowitz. Last year, Google added an internal private equity fund to the mix.

Google’s emerging role as an investment powerhouse has become a topic of intense conversation among tech giants, who are fascinated and worried by its role. Google’s dealmaking gives it a first look at new technologies and helps it create relationships with companies it wants to buy, like smart thermostat maker, Nest Labs.

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As companies increasingly delay IPOs, there could be more room for late-stage cash infusions. Few VC firms specialize in this, and the big Wall Street players haven’t yet developed trust in the Valley, leaving a possible vacuum for Google.

A Google spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.


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"I was wrong to think they’d be a flash in the pan,” says David Cowan, Bessemer Venture Partners.

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