The summer is great; sunshine, ice-cream, holidays, all that great stuff and more. However it does mean that while we’re kicking back and enjoying a rest we can miss the odd big story. One such that slipped through the net last week was the news that Google Ventures is coming to Europe.
If you have any interest or involvement in the start up scene then Google Ventures, the venture capital investment arm of Google, must surely be known to you. They were only set up in 2009 with a $100 million capital commitment but have grown quickly. In 2012 they increased their annual capital commitment was raised to $300 million. To date they have invested in over 250 companies and the total worth of their assets is valued at over $1.5 billion.
You may remember the news that broke in January when Google acquired Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. Google Ventures invested in them back in August 2011, and they aren’t the only company that has gone from receiving investment from Google’s venture capital arm to being bought by the big parent company. However the percentage of such purchases is still low, Google Venture’s portfolio page lists only four companies including Nest.
I don’t want to give you the impression that Google Ventures is only there to pursue start ups that it’s parent company would be interested in though. Neither do they in fact, their own website clearly states, “GV provides seed, venture, and growth-stage funding to the best companies — not strategic investments for Google.” Its portfolio includes start ups that have been acquired by Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, and others.
So you can begin to see why we are getting excited that Google Ventures is coming to Europe. They’ve put together a $100 million fund to invest in start ups that catch their eye, and if their growth strategy for this side of the pond mirrors how GV have ramped up over in the States then we can expect to see a lot of money coming into the community. In their press release, along with the usual points of interest such as London, Paris, and Berlin, they’ve highlighted the Nordic area, a sign that they recognise the quality of the start ups being birthed in the region.
The other reason that start ups should be excited about the arrival of Google Ventures onto these shores is that along with the money, they also bring expertise and support to the firms they invest in that could be absolutely invaluable to small start ups. Areas such as design, recruiting, and marketing, where there not be much experience in an existing team, can be bolstered with Google Ventures assistance. Of course it’s all in their best interests, the better a start up performs with their help, the most value it will accrue.
For now we wait, but we hope it won’t be long before we’re able to talk about GV’s first investment into a Nordic start up.