Google’s venture-capital arm will have $100 million at its disposal in its first year, the WSJ reports. The company is expected to unveil more details about its VC plans today. About eight months after Google said it was starting a formal venture-capital arm, the search giant has tapped William Maris, former entrepreneur who has worked as an investor and helped to form the venture. He will work with Rich Miner, who was moved over from Google’s mobile unit, to run the project, dubbed Google Ventures.
The initiative has been compared to VC arms like Intel (NSDQ: INTC) Capital, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Investment and Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, which often invest in companies that can serve as a complement to their parents’ existing product offerings. Google is said to be looking to back a variety of start-ups, albeit ones that are more likely to produce actual returns as opposed to an extension of Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Google has a track record of making strategic investments over the years. It has often put up large amounts of capital, as in the case of WiMax. Lately, the company’s been looking more vulnerable to the economic downturn then it previously let on. That vulnerability will likely determine how carefully it aims its $100 million largess over the coming 12 months.