March 16, 2015

Google Ventures Towards Better Navigation

Text that reads "Google Ventures" next to multicolored cross logo.

By Megan G.

Immortality, self-driving cars, and a cloud computing massive amounts of data—are we in a science fiction movie?  Nope, those are just some of the ideas pouring out of Google Ventures, the venture investment arm of Google Inc.  The Google Ventures President Bill Maris has recently made headlines by stating that it is possible for humans to live to be 500 years old.  Grandiose statements aside, let’s take a look at how GV actually works and what advancements have come from this unique arm of Google Inc.

How does Google Ventures work?

Google Ventures first came about in 2009 with a goal of helping startups make the world a better place.  They have since invested in 250 different companies in five business categories:

  • Consumer
  • Mobile
  • Commerce
  • Enterprise & data
  • Life science

Google Ventures’ investment decisions operate separately from their parent company, but they still take “talent and knowledge resources” from Google.  A few of these entrepreneurs have since partnered with the search engine giant and their work has led to advancements in Google-owned projects, including Google Maps, the Dataflow, and more.

An investment from Google Ventures means a huge chunk of funding and hands-on support from their experienced staff.  Chosen startups gain access to Google’s vast amount of resources, as well as assistance with design, recruiting, marketing, and engineering.  They even help the little guys foster partnerships with larger companies

One of the more well-known companies backed by Google Ventures is Uber, the ridesharing app that has since entered a partnership with Google.

A grey "U" encased in a black box with a grey trim and the word "uber" written below.
Photo from the Uber blog.

The road to safer navigation… even if it’s a bumpy one

Many recent reports suggest that the relationship between Google Inc. and Uber is rocky, tricky, prickly, and other adjectives that might apply to an “uh-oh” business situation.  To sum up the subtle debacle, Google is reportedly designing a ridesharing app for its self-driving cars while Uber develops self-driving cars of their own.  In short, the two companies are infringing on each other’s territories, so their partnership may be short-lived.  However, based on statements from a source close to the alleged Google-Uber feud, the situation has been “blown out of proportion.”

Drama or no, let’s take a moment to discuss the benefits of this partnership by looking at the updates for Google Maps.  Last year, Google Maps integrated with Uber to provide estimated Uber pickup times, fare, and travel time according to your current location.  The feature is available if you have both the Google Maps and UberX apps installed on your phone.

A rocket ship crafted from paper takes off with the Earth and Moon in the distance.
Taking off.  From GV’s Marketing page
Google Maps already provides safe routes with lane guidance features, live traffic and incident updates, and automatic rerouting capabilities.  The addition of an Uber transportation option improves upon this, as it saves individuals from potentially dangerous rides home after a night of drinking, exhausting work, etc.  In addition, despite Uber’s rather spotted history, the ridesharing company is taking steps towards providing safer transportation to its customers.  This road towards safe navigation began with the established relationship between Google Ventures and Uber.

Whether or not the relationship between Uber and Google Inc. continues, Google Ventures will undoubtedly continue to find small startups with big ideas, providing room for both their personal innovations and their lucrative advancements with Google Inc.

You can keep up with GV updates from their About page and learn more about other industry game changers who they have put their money and hard work behind.

What other Google Ventures investments do you know of?  What’s your opinion of Google Ventures as a separate entity of Google Inc.?  Let the Tek Team know in the comments!      


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