Google Ventures – Why U No Invest In Europe?


google ventures logoEarlier this month, Google Ventures announced that they would now be investing $300 million a year (up from $200 million). According to Reuters, this puts them in the same ranks as more establish corporate venture funds, like Intel Capital, who invests $300-$500 million a year. To put it in context, travel-tech giant Concur (TripIt) recently launched a fund of $150 million, dedicated to global travel-tech technologies. Needless to say, there is much to be excited about when a big fund like Google Ventures announces it’s getting a little bigger, and yet, I find myself a bit disgruntled.

“At this point we’re focusing on US-based startups only.  I’ll let you know if/when that changes!” – Jodi Olson, Google Ventures

Looking through the Google Ventures  investment portfolio, I hardly notice a poorly-chosen startup name or a Gmbh, which tells me one thing: Google Ventures only invests in US companies. Reaching out to Jodi Olson, in charge of communication at Google Ventures, she was polite in her response that, indeed, Google Ventures won’t touch foreign companies. This lines up pretty closely with their company philosophy – all acquired talent is centralized to Mountain View in California, employees aren’t allowed to telecommute, and until recently, they did all of their engineering work in California. (Correction: True – the previous statement meant to suggest that most of the their top priority projects have been managed in Mountain View, historically, not that all engineering work was done there.)

Google Ventures – Europe is an untouched frontiere!

Unfortunately both Google Ventures & Europe are hurting from this – European startups with big visions aren’t getting funded, or are being funded by VCs with less resources than Google, and Google Ventures is missing out on European startups that would otherwise get funded, should they be located in the US.
Google has always embodied an attitude that is typical of the Silicon Valley: “everything happens here, so if you want to be a part of it, or think you will contribute to it in any way, you have to be here.” Journalists, VCs, entrepreneurs, all the way down to parents (trust me) think that your best chances of success lies in abandoning whatever cultural, local, and network advantage you have in your tiny non-Californian region, and start afresh in San Francisco.
It must be something in the water (high levels of fluorine), or maybe it’s the redwood trees.