If you’ve got a great startup idea and all you need to get going is $1.5 billion, now you’ve got a place to go. In an announcement that attracted quite a bit of interest in normally jaded Silicon Valley, Google Ventures, the independently run venture capital arm of Google, announced that for at least the next five years it will boost its annual funding to $300 million from $200 million , or to $1.5 billion over five years.
I don’t blame Google Ventures for investing in virtually every online sector: mobile, gaming, consumer Internet, big data, life science, enterprise, advertising, payments and more. Why not? If you’ve got the money, why not experiment?
What a cool roster of companies it has already collected. There’s Nest (the iPod-like thermostat), 23andMe (to unlock your own genetic code), Blue Bottle Coffee, HomeAway and RocketLawyer, just to name a few of the 100 on board so far. One of the Google Ventures companies, Stamped, was recently acquired by newly appointed Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in one of her first official moves.
What appears to be new, however, is that for the first time, Google Ventures appears to be avoiding the angel rounds and investing in later, and potentially more expensive, rounds, when the startups are already underway. This is a risk management move: it costs more to get in at that stage, but the risks—and the potential returns—are lower.
Google CEO Larry Page has suggested in previous interviews that Google Ventures might one day float a billion-dollar fund, a move that would certainly alter the geography along Sand Hill Road. The established VC kings have already had to react to Google Ventures’ unique way of doing things. Today, its 60 employees don’t just invest; they also offer services to startups such as design, marketing and technical recruiting that many other VCs don’t. They even run a startup university, hold tech talks and help their startups write code.
What all this means for the average startup dreamer with ideas and ambition is that the VC money is out there—not only on the West Coast but in New York as well—and that now is as good a time as any to seek out the cash and the advice you need to turn dreams into reality.