Google is reportedly planning to launch a venture capital arm, named Google Ventures, with Android co-founder Rich Miner set to take a key role.
Google has announced no details of its plans, but a company spokesperson told Reuters that Google Ventures is "a project we're working on". This comes after the news agency spotted a name tag at a Silicon Valley startup event that revealed Miner to be part of the venture project.
The news follows rumours from last year that suggest Google is planning to launch a VC fund in order to invest in new technologies.
A Wall Street Journal report from July said the group would be led by Google's chief legal officer and SVP of corporate development David Drummond, with the search giant also employing entrepreneur William Maris to help set up the venture arm. The report did not give details about the kind of investments the VC fund is likely to make.
Google would not be the first large media company to establish a VC fund. Firms such as Amazon, Comcast, Motorola and Disney all boast investment arms.
Google already makes investments through Google.org, the philanthropic branch of the company, which invests 1% of Google's equity and profits in projects promoting clean energy and global health.
In 2007, the firm also launched Google Gadget Ventures, a pilot programme that provides seed funding to third-party application platforms. This includes grants of USD5,000 to individual developers and seed funding of USD100,000 to commercial developers looking to build out their business platforms.
This venture fund was inspired by the success of iGoogle.com, a widget-based start page, created by third party developers.
Google can afford to invest in new areas. The company has a reported USD8.6bn cash pile. However, CEO Eric Schmidt warned earlier this month that, given the current economic climate, the firm will only make “very very conservative investments.” He added that Google intends to let its cash “pile up.”
Rich Miner joined Google in 2005 when the firm bought Android, the company that formed the basis of Google's mobile operating system. Miner has spent the last 20 years working at startups and wireless firms.
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