Venture capitalists have been funding all kinds of wearable devices – from activity-tracking wristbands to brain-sensing headbands to armbands that let people control computers with gestures. But at the Wearable Tech Expo in New York on Wednesday, a panel of VCs all said that, given the option, they wouldn’t back Google Glass.
John Frankel, a partner at ff Venture Capital, said Google Glass is an interesting experiment and that it could be very helpful to doctors. But as a consumer product, he said he’s not convinced it’s going to be a hit.
“It’s too big a change of behavior. It’s technology that sits between you and other people… it feels to me that it’s too impersonal,” he said. “It feels more like the Segway than anything else, which is, ‘hey, this looks great on paper but I probably wouldn’t have one in the garage.’”
Intel Capital’s Tammi Smorynski was also lukewarm, saying that Intel had invested in another heads-up display product and isn’t convinced the market for Google Glass is going to take off.
“We’ve kind of been there, done that,” she said.
For a venture firm that does seed and Series A stage deals and is a $200 million fund, John Burke, a partner at True Ventures (see disclosure) said his firm couldn’t invest in it because it would be too much money. But later he added that Google Glass “really does change the dynamic – it’s a very strange social norm.”
But even though these VCs don’t seem ready to jump on the Google Glass bandwagon, other Silicon Valley investors are far more bullish. Earlier this year, for example, Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers jointly announced the Glass Collective to fund developers interested in building out applications for the new technology.
“The thesis of Glass is profoundly transformational — to integrate connectivity and information directly into your field of vision and into your normal daily life. Instead of having a phone in your pocket or a tablet in your briefcase, why not have the Internet in your field of vision when you want it,” wrote Andreesen. “And why not feed the Internet with live video and audio that matches what you see and hear at any time.”
Disclosure: True Ventures is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.