Google the VC

Google’s Eric Schmidt told me back in June that he would not be launching a corporate VC program, but I should have asked him to clarify his position, seeing as how the company was already putting down venture-style investments.

Google invested in Baidu’s $15 million Series C in June, 2004. It backed Fon Technologies, investing in its $21.7 million Series A in February. Google has also invested in Current Communications, a broadband over power line company, supporting both a $100 million round in 2005 and a $130 million round in 2006. And Dan broke the news it had invested in a $10 million round for alternative energy producer Makani Power in October. There’s even a rumor that Google invested in Chinese P2P site Xunlei, operated by Thunder Network Technology.

Still, this type of interaction is very different from what IBM and Microsoft do, and that’s what Schmidt’s comments seemed to be aimed at. Those companies have VC out-reach programs and boards of VC advisors designed to pull startups to develop products for their platforms. Google doesn’t have an obvious play in the platform wars so it’s interaction with VCs and startups would have to be different.

I’ve made the original PE Week story free for anyone who wants to read exactly what Schmidt had to say.