Google Ventures doubling start-up investments

Google Ventures is going to the next level by doubling its investment in start-ups to as much as $200 million per year, expanding its office space within the Googleplex, and getting a few Googlers-in-residence.

Google Ventures is going to the next level by doubling its investment in start-ups to as much as $200 million per year, expanding its office space within the Mountain View Googleplex, and getting a few Googlers in residence, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Given the two-year-old venture capital arm's track record, it's small wonder that Google Ventures is getting kicked into overdrive. Mobile game developer ngmoco was acquired by Japanese company DeNA for $400 million back in November, and HomeAway, Inc. had its IPO on June 29th (NASDAQ:AWAY), and is trading at $41.75 per share as I write this.

Otherwise, Google Ventures has its finger in all sorts of pies, from local deal finding website Signpost to educational software developer Miso Media all the way to so-called "smart grid" environmentally friendly solutions provider Silver Spring Networks.

Google Ventures has a mandate to invest in whatever will be most profitable for the company, as opposed to investing in technology that would be most useful for Google itself. That $200 million figure is just a guideline, apparently - Google Ventures may well not spend a cent on new start-ups in the coming months if it doesn't hear the right pitch, Founder Rich Miner says in that WSJ report.

Googlers John “Four” Flynn and Sam Schillace will be joining Google Ventures as part of a residency program to coach the start-ups in Google Ventures' portfolio: Flynn is a security specialist, while Schillace was the founder of Writely, the online word processor which Google acquired to form the basis for Google Docs.

We don't know exactly how much Google Ventures is actually making for Google, Inc. And something hammered home again and again in the WSJ piece is that this is really an experiment for Google, distinct from idealism-driven investments like its green energy initiatives. But I doubt that the mothership would let Google Ventures grow if the company weren't turning a hefty profit on the deal.