Google goes against the tide, launches VC company

Despite the struggling economy, Google looks to invest in the next big tech thing

While most venture capital has dried up due to the sinking economy, Google Inc. has decided to swim against the current.

The company Tuesday launched Google Ventures, a venture capital fund to invest in high tech startups, said Rich Miner and Bill Maris, managing directors of the new Google Ventures operation, in a blog post, Miner and Maris said Google Ventures is looking to focus on consumer Internet, software, clean-tech, bio-tech and health care start-ups. The company reportedly plans to invest up to $100 million over the next year.

"Economically, times are tough, but great ideas come when they will," they wrote. "If anything, we think the current downturn is an ideal time to invest in nascent companies that have the chance to be the 'next big thing,' and we'll be working hard to find them."

This news comes in a year that has seen Google, a poster child for high-tech success, scale back its hiring and even lay off full-time employees. And it's not exactly an economy that's fostering much venture funding at all. While everyone's purse strings are pulled tight to the point of near strangulation, the collapse of investment banks like Lehman Brothers Holdings and Bear Stearns Cos. has been making venture capital harder than ever to raise.

Billed as Google's primary vehicle for venture funding, Google Ventures is set up to invest in amounts ranging from a little "seed money" to tens of millions of dollars, according to the Google Ventures Web site. The New York Times reported today that that the new operation will likely invest $100 million in start-up firms over the next 12 months.

"By borrowing the best practices of top-tier, financially focused venture capital firms and bringing to bear Google's unique technical expertise and brand, we think we can find young companies with truly awesome potential and encourage their development into successful businesses," wrote Miner and Maris. "Central to our effort will be our fellow Googlers, whom we view as a critically important resource to help educate us about potential investments areas and evaluate specific companies."

Anyone interested in inquiring about venture capital funding for their company can contact Google Ventures at this web site.

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