Google Puts Money Where Technology Is

Google has jumped into the venture capital business. It plans to commit $100 million its first year to find and develop new technology companies under the Google Ventures firm.

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Even in this environment, some companies are still willing to put money into risky business ventures, if they have money. Google still has plenty. So the Internet company is setting up a venture capital arm called Google Ventures. NPR's Wendy Kaufman has more.

WENDY KAUFMAN: As managing partners of Google Ventures, Bill Maris and Rich Miner are looking for the next big thing.

Mr. RICH MINER (Google Ventures): You know, for us, we look for, you know, a great team, because it's often about the people, you know, with a great idea and a big opportunity.

Mr. BILL MARIS (Google Ventures): This is Bill. Part of the fun and excitement and interest in venture capital is not knowing what you're going to find.

KAUFMAN: The start-ups don't have to be related to Google's core business, says Maris, but they must have profit-making potential. With a $100 million to invest the first year and more money to follow, Google Ventures will be playing in the big leagues. Overall, venture funding has been down in recent months, but Maris says Google Ventures is not deterred by the weak economy. And neither are the kinds of individuals they're looking for.

Mr. MARIS: Really passionate entrepreneurs with great ideas are not dissuaded by macroeconomic trends.

KAUFMAN: And, says Rich Miner…

Mr. MINER: As you have more people, you know, frankly, you know, who are concerned about their current position or find themselves out of work, they're looking to be creative, and they're working with other people to come with new ideas.

KAUFMAN: Google Ventures expects some of the ideas to come from employees of its parent company. Others will come in through its Web site, which invites those who think they have the next big idea to contact them.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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