Google Ventures Looks Beyond Strategic Investments

We’ve been typing out a series of “Google (NSDQ: GOOG) acquires” stories of late, as CEO Eric Schmidt makes good on his promise to pick up at least one company a month. But Google investment strategy stretches beyond buying or acq-hiring. Google Ventures was founded last year with a small team to focus on early-stage investments and some $100 million to invest. Fifteen months in, it had a but of a coming-out party Monday, showing off its expansion to 16 members — and still growing — and its portfolio. Well, some of its portfolio; 10 companies have been announced, “a handful of others” haven’t yet, according to GV’s FAQ.

The mission, explained by Managing Partner Bill Maris in a blog post: “Rather than looking for investments that would simply be strategically useful to Google, we aim to invest in best-of-breed ventures in a wide variety of fields. Our fund’s calling is to generate a financial return while supporting entrepreneurs who are creating transformative ventures. In doing so, we try to bring to bear Google’s resources to support them in that mission.”

So far, they’ve invested in a wide range — each with, they claim, “the potential to make a global impact” — although there is a distinct mobile interest, followng Schmidt’s “mobile first” philosophy. The companies include payment startup Corduro, announced today; English Central, which uses video to teach English; publishing monetization tool VigLink; mobile geo-gaming platform SCVNGR; and Recorded Future, which claims to extract time and event information to make sense of the web. Investments are limited to North American companies for now.

Unlike some corporate venture funds, which often serve as incubators for potential acquisitions, Schmidt told the NYT: