The search giant’s 4-year-old financing arm, Google Ventures, has quietly become the country’s No. 3 most active venture-capital firm, according to a recent report.
Google Ventures, which has $300 million a year to invest, participated in 71 funding rounds in 2012, according to data from CB Insights.
“Google has become a favored destination for entrepreneurs,” said Anand Sanwal, CB Insights’ CEO.
The allure of Google Ventures is obvious: worldwide brand recognition and access to some of the brightest bulbs in Silicon Valley.
Most activity is seed investments, partners at the firm have said. It would appear the unit has rung up gobs of profits — although there’s no way to know exactly how much.
So far the financial arm, whose lone investor is Google, has raised $1.5 billion, according to a Google Ventures spokeswoman. Last year only New Enterprise Associates or Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers did more tech deals.
Not content with merely cutting checks, Google Ventures is also finding exits for some investments.
In 2012, Google Ventures saw eight exits for startups it backed, a number that put the company in the top ranks of VC firms, according to research firm PrivCo.
“Google is a big VC firm, no question about it, and it is seeing exits,” said PrivCo chief Sam Hamadeh.
In 2013, the VC arm has made seven investments, according to PrivCo data, a pace that’s on par with Silicon Valley’s biggest investment firms.
The parent company has always been active acquiring companies and was among the top buyers of startups last year. However, its venture investment and acquisition philosophies differ.
“Google acts like a traditional VC,” Sanwal said. “There could be no strategic benefit to the mothership. It is looking for returns.”
That’s not to say Google doesn’t use its investments to survey the tech landscape and use it as a farm league for eventual acquisitions. There was one instance last year, and two overall, where the parent bought a company in which Google Ventures invested.
Google Ventures said yesterday it wasn’t surprised to hear the firm is now among Silicon Valley’s most active. Since its inception in 2009, it has invested in 200 startups, said Jodi Olson, the spokeswoman.
“The idea isn’t to funnel up company ideas to Google; it’s financial returns,” she said.
Source: NewYork Post