Although a relatively new kid on the block, Google Ventures has become a prominent player in VC. We've updated our "teardown" of the firm's strategy and portfolio.
Founded in 2009, Google Ventures has quickly established itself as one of the more high-profile names in venture capital today and the most active firm in corporate venture capital.
In June 2014, we dove into the firm as part of our Google Ventures “teardown.” The original brief received lots of interest, including from Google Ventures Managing Partner and Uber investor David Krane:
— David Krane (@kraneland) June 24, 2014
Since then, Google Ventures has continued to invest at a rapid clip across tech and healthcare in areas including satellite data, cybersecurity, and telemedicine. It has also been bolstered by its participation in prominent financings and exits.
Using CB Insights, we took a fresh look at Google Ventures’ investment strategy and exit history.
- Where’s the data & viz from? 100% of the visualizations and data you see in this teardown are directly from the CB Insights platform’s Investor Analytics tool.
- What’s a Teardown? A product teardown is the act of disassembling a product to understand its parts, functionality, etc. An investor teardown is analogous. We’re trying to understand a firm and what makes it tick by analyzing data around their financing strategy, investment thesis, key people, exit history, investment syndicates and more.
We’ll discuss trends and highlights in Google Ventures portfolio over the past few years by analyzing the following dimensions:
- Recent financing activity
- Recent exit activity
- Notable partners
- Industry focus and strategy
- Geographic strategy
- Stage strategy
- New vs. follow-on investments
- Deal size
- Investment syndicate analysis
Google Ventures slows down
In 2015, Google Ventures completed its lowest number of new and follow-on deals in a year’s first half since 2012 and 39% less deals than in 2014’s first half, when the firm completed a record 50 new and follow-on deals.
A few of Google Ventures’ recent new deals include:
- Farmers Business Network’s $15M Series A in May, which Google Ventures led. Farmers Business Network is a data-driven farmer-to-farmer network.
- Kobalt’s $60M Series C round in February, with participation from MSD Capital and MSDC Management. London-based Kobalt provides music publishing, analytics and global music rights management services.
- Slack’s $120M Series D in October 2014 at a $1.1B valuation, co-led with Kleiner Perkins.
A few of Google Ventures’ recent notable deals include:
- Cloudera’s $160 million Series F round (which ballooned to $900M after an investment by Intel) in March alongside T. Rowe Price and an affiliate of MSD Capital, the private investment firm of Dell founder Michael Dell.
- Uber’s $1.2 billion Series D round of funding in June, the bulk of which came from mutual fund investors Fidelity Investments, BlackRock and Wellington Management. This is following their role in Uber’s $258 million Series C round last August; since then, Uber’s valuation has jumped from $3.5 billion to $18.2 billion.
- Flatiron Health’s Series B round in May, in which the firm led the $130 million financing. This deal represents Google Ventures’ largest investment in a health IT startup to date.
If you’d like to see more, we’d earlier detailed Google Ventures’ top 10 biggest deals (which has since changed given Uber’s latest funding).
Below is a graph of Google Ventures’ monthly investment participation (deals & funding) over time from their profile on CB Insights.
A diverse array of exits
Google Ventures’ portfolio exits highlight the diversity of the firm’s investments. Google Ventures has seen over 20 of its portfolio companies exit since last June.
The firm’s recent exits have been all over the map, in terms of both industry and size.
Recent Notable Exits:
- FitStar was acquired by Fitbit in March for $18M. Google Ventures was a Seed investor in the workout app.
- OnDeck Capital went public in December at a $1.32B valuation. Google Ventures first invested in OnDeck’s Series D round at a $259M valuation.
- Hubspot went public in October at a $759M valuation. Google Ventures first invested in Hubspot’s Series D at a $200M valuation.
The firm’s exits with disclosed valuations are plotted on the below scatterplot taken from Google Ventures’ CB Insights profile.
Google Ventures’ partners
Here are a few of the big players in Google Ventures:
Bill Maris is Managing Partner at Google Ventures and is regarded as the founder of the corporate venture unit in 2009. His investments include Nest Labs, Uber, and 23andMe. He sits on the boards of Nest Labs and biotech company Adimab and has a particular interest in next generation life sciences and artificial intelligence, evidenced by his idea to create Calico, a biotech company focused on fighting human aging.
David Krane is Managing Partner at Google Ventures. His investments include Uber, Blue Bottle Coffee, CircleUp and Urban Engines. He previously served at Google’s director of Global Communications and Public Affairs.
Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite and JotSpot, is General Partner with investments in the likes of Kabam, TuneIn, and Pocket. He has also been an active angel investor in several companies, such as LinkedIn, Aardvark, Kongregate, and OpenCandy. Kraus is on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Clean Power Finance, and MyLikes.
Rich Miner, co-founder of Android, is a General Partner and leads Google Ventures’ East Coast investment team. His investments include MessageMe, Enterproid, CustomMade, and Hubspot. He sits on the boards for Crittercism, EnglishCentral, VigLink, and Recorded Future.
Industry Focus and Strategy – Security & Digital Health Rising
Between 2010 and 2013, Google Ventures decreased its investment in social media companies and switched to more “enterprise-y” areas, as evidenced by its funding of Cloudera, DocuSign, and Hubspot. Between 2010 and 2013, Google Ventures also increased investment in video and health apps, as evidenced by their fundings of Vungle, Jumpcam, and FitStar Labs.
Flash-forward to 2014 and we see that Google Ventures has placed a large strategic emphasis on cybersecurity. As virtual threats increase, Google Ventures has bet on a number of upstarts including Duo Security, Ionic Security, Threatstream and Synack. Google Ventures has also made a broader push into digital health in recent quarters. Recent investments in this category include Transcriptic, Spruce Health and Flatiron Health.
Companies within the realm of “big data” and data analytics have also been a recent focus area for Google Ventures. Recent deals include big data exploration program MapD, IT operations analytics software Rocana, and secondary storage startup Cohesity.
Our Industry Heatmap below shows the distribution of investments in the internet software and services space by subindustry, with 2010-2011 on the left, 2012-2013 in the middle and all activity since on the right. Each box’s size represents deal count and color darkness represents funding volume.
Geographic Strategy – Increased Interest in New York
As in prior years, the majority of Google Ventures’ investments still take place in California. In 2012 and 2013, Google Ventures increased its investment pace in Massachusetts. The firm participated in rounds totaling $87 million across 10 deals in Massachusetts between 2010 and 2011, and this jumped to $212 million in 28 deals between 2012 and 2013.
More recently, Google Ventures has identified more opportunities in New York. In 2012 and 2013, Google Ventures participated in 13 New York deals including rounds to OnDeck Capital, YieldMo, and mParticle.
Since then, Google Ventures has doubled-down in New York, completing 16 deals. Most notably, the firm led a $130M investment to oncology data analytics firm Flatiron Health in May 2014. Google Ventures has also seeded nine New York startups including LedgerX, Abacus Labs, Clarifai, and Bowery. The corporate VC also participated in a $10M Series A to Cockroach Labs.
While all stages of investment have seen increases over the last five years, the biggest growth has been in the early rounds, with 66% of deals taking place in Seed or Series A rounds over the past five years. Google Ventures is the most active corporate venture capital firm at the seed stage so this is not entirely surprising.
The table below gives details on the firm’s deals in each stage:
New vs. Follow-On Investments
As Google Ventures’ portfolio matured since the firm’s launch in 2009, follow-on investments have surged. Google Ventures completed twice as many follow-on deals as it did new deals in Q2’15 — the highest percentage of follow-on deals it has ever done in a single quarter.
Many of these follow-on investments went to companies that had previously received Google Ventures backing at the seed stage, including Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data integration startup Tamr, mobile savings app HelloDigit, and consumer tracking company FullStory.
The chart below from CBI’s Investor Analytics shows the proportion of Google Ventures’ new investments vs. follow-on investments in each quarter for the past five years.
Google Ventures has participated in a number of mega-financings — including those to Uber and Cloudera — which have served to drive up the median size of its deals. In Q2’15, Google Ventures’ median deal size swelled to $15M behind large rounds, including Cohesity’s $55M Series B and Slack’s $160M Series E. Over the last five years, Google Ventures has seen its median deal size surpass $10M in just three quarters.
Below is a graph from the Investor Analytics tab on CB Insights that shows trends in Google Ventures’ median deal size.
Google Ventures often does deals with other big VC firms such as Kleiner Perkins (52 rounds across 33 companies), SV Angel (38 rounds across 34 companies), and Andreessen Horowitz (35 rounds across 26 companies). Several of Google Ventures’ top co-investors are also among its top deal flow sources, including Kleiner Perkins, First Round Capital, and SV Angel. Y Combinator is a top feeder of deal flow to Google Ventures.
If you’d like to read more about Google Ventures’ investment syndicate, check out our analysis here.
- 100% of the visualizations in this Teardown are from Investor Analytics. No MS Excel necessary.
- Visualizations are all interactive so you can click and see underlying transaction details.
- For a list of Google’s acquisitions, see our Google acquisitions tracker, here.
- Visit Google Venture’s profile to check out these visualizations on your own.
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This report was created with data from CB Insights’ emerging technology insights platform, which offers clarity into emerging tech and new business strategies through tools like:
- Earnings Transcripts Search Engine & Analytics to get an information edge on competitors’ and incumbents’ strategies
- Patent Analytics to see where innovation is happening next
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