The New York Times reports today that Google will soon announce an expansion of its fledgling Google Ventures arm. According to the Times story, Google plans to invest $100 million over the next 12 months in what it considers promising startups in fields such as Internet technologies, clean energy, and the life sciences.
The expanded unit has a strong science and technology background. Heading Google Ventures is David Drummond, a senior vice president at Google and the company’s chief lawyer. Rich Milner, one of the managing partners of Google Ventures, has a Ph.D. in computer science from University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and led development of the Android operating system now used in Google’s G-phone. Milner joined the company in 2005 when Google acquired Android.
Bill Maris, the other managing partner, has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Middlebury College in Vermont, during which he conducted basic research at the Duke University Medical Center. Maris opted for a career as an entreprenuer, but later applied his science background as the biotechnology and healthcare portfolio manager for the Swedish investment company AB.
The Times says Google Ventures has already invested in two startups. One of the companies, Silver Spring Networks, makes software for utilities to build and manage smart electrical grids. The other supported firm is Pixazza that develops software that adds marketing information to images of products on Web pages, to let consumers learn more or buy the products online.