Google Ventures president and managing partner Bill Maris today said that Google is ramping up the size of its investment team.
The Google-unit, which has $400 million (£263 million) at its disposal every year to back potentially lucrative technology companies, has 15 investing partners worldwide but Maris said the team is still growing, pointing to the recent appointment of four investors in London. Globally, Google Ventures employs closer to 80 people across a variety of roles.
“We just opened an office in London where we have four partners and where we’ve just made our first investment,” he said at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York City today, referring to the £38.9 million round that online music platform Kobalt raised in February.
Maris described Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as “incredibly generous people”, even though they have previously said that Google should come up with an algorithm to help Google identify the most promising (and profitable) technology companies worldwide.
Google Ventures has made approximately 300 investments since it was established in 2009, some of whom are big name companies like Uber and Nest.
Not all of these investments will prove fruitful for Google.
One London-based investor told Techworld last week that venture capitalists tend to get a worthwhile return on two of every ten investments, adding that three investments might break even, while five will come in at a loss.
However, Maris made an interesting argument today in reference to Google's first steps into the wearable eyewear market. Referring to Google Glass, which is currently in hibernation mode, the investor said: “If you don’t place bets with the understanding you might fail, you’ll never do anything significant.”
Maris hailed Uber as the fastest-growing company the world has ever seen, adding that he's satisfied with the steps Uber is taking around the privacy issues some critics have spoken out about.
When asked if Google will ever buy Uber, Maris did not specifically say no. Instead, he replied saying: “I don’t think Uber is for sale.”
Maris added that his bosses (Page and Brin) have never questioned any of the investments that Google Ventures has made. “It’s remarkable to be given that amount of freedom,” he said.
Google did not immediately respond to Techworld's request asking how many partners it is planning to hire.