Google officially announced Google Capital today, a venture fund that will invest in tech companies already hitting stride as opposed to those just emerging from the garage.
This marks a departure from Google Ventures, the Mountain View company’s first venture arm that focuses on investing in early-stage tech startups. Previous Google Ventures companies include Rumble, Uber, Hubspot, and many others.
Indeed, Google Capital was mostly flying under the radar until yesterday, when it announced a $40 million investment in Renaissance Learning, a hugely successful Wisconsin-based K-12 cloud-based assessment and learning analytics company with over 1,000 employees.
Renaissance isn’t a startup, has been around since the 1980s, has a valuation of $1 billion and is owned by Permira, European private equity firm with a penchant for investing in IT companies. With the Renaissance investment, Google now becomes not just an investor but a small minority owner with a stake around 4 percent.
Google Capital has only made two other investments besides Renaissance to date: Survey Monkey and Lending Club.
The folks at Google made it clear the new fund will not be limited to investing cash into one kind of company. It seems the only prerequisite, according to a blog post, is, “We’ll be looking to invest in companies solely as they hit their growth phase.”
Most startups, are, by their nature, not hitting growth phase weeks after launching. Or even months into it. So Google Capital is looking for outfits with proven track records and performances. Google Capital is being led by partners David Lawee, Scott Tierney, and Gene Frantz.
Google’s blog post included this graf:
The most important—and distinctive—feature of Google Capital is how we work with our portfolio companies. Over the past 15 years, Google has built a strong business, and that’s mostly thanks to the great people who work here. Our portfolio companies have abundant access to the talent, passion and strategic expertise of some of Google’s technology and product leaders. While many investors may contribute money and advice to the companies they support, Google Capital is going beyond that and tapping into our greatest assets: our people. They help us succeed, and we believe they can help our portfolio companies do the same.
Stay tuned. I will be speaking to the Google folks this afternoon and will post a more in depth profile later.