The grand ambitions of Google Ventures

Google Ventures is looking to become one of the top-tier VC firms in Silicon Valley, and hiring high-profile partners is part of the path to the top.

Update: Google expands venture fund to $300 million

Google has expanded the size of Google Ventures’s annual fund from $200 million to $300 million annually, which will allow the firm to expand the scope of its deals and increase its presence as a major venture capital firm since its founding in 2009.

This week in cleantech: Google Ventures, Q3 and the share economy

What happened this week in cleantech on GigaOM Pro, our premium research service? — The opportunities and risks in the share economy, the third quarter dreary cleantech figures, Google Ventures explains why it backed Nest, and Calxeda forecasts its next low power chip.

Google Ventures’ Bill Maris on VC and his initial reaction to the Nest

Google Ventures’ Bill Maris spoke with The Wall Street Journal recently. Regarding his initial reluctance to invest in smart thermostat maker Nest, as well as his future interests, Maris said,

 

“I’m interested in the ideas that sound a little crazy, such as radical life extension, curing cancer, being able to create a simulation of the human brain and map every neuron. Nest is a company that wanted to build a new kind of thermostat, and initially that didn’t seem important to me. But then I learned…that it’s not really about the thermostat. The thermostat knows when you’re home and when you’re not [and adjusts the temperature accordingly]. They’re trying to save the world a lot of energy.”

 

What is innovative about Nest is that it’s one of the first implementations of a consumer electronics device using its sensors to collect data, crunch that data and then respond directly to your behavior. And actually work. What was missing from Maris’ comments were any mention of future cleantech sectors that interest him, as Google has made a number of investments that include RelayRides and Silver Spring Networks.

Maris also spoke to problems in VC where large firms take fees based on how big their funds are, thus providing an incentive to raise larger funds and make investments regardless of the quality of the investment. Overall Maris remains bullish on the IT sector because of the growing customer base, and even suggested he was unworried by Facebook and Zynga’s poor post IPO performance.

What’s up with Google and biomass power?

Out of all of Google’s close to $1 billion in clean power projects, turning biomass into energy seems like the least relevant technology to Google’s core business. But Google has made a few small investments into biomass projects, including a hog waste to energy project.