Google has launched an offshoot aimed at investing in and fostering AI startups, and the firm is staffed by Google’s AI engineers rather than venture capitalists or business professionals. The effort is to be led by the company’s VP of engineering, Anna Patterson, and will feature a rotating staff of Google engineers. The program will reportedly seek out startups that seem to be doing innovative and worthwhile things in the AI field, and provide them with funding and coaching directly from the best that Google has to offer. Ankit Jain, who came back to Google recently after a stint at his own startup and the company that ended up acquiring, is also involved. A spokesperson for Google declined to provide a comment or any additional information at this time.
The program is reportedly aiming to invest between $1 million and $10 million in each startup, though some cases may warrant co-investment from Google Ventures, or even an acquisition. It is worth noting that the program exists under Google, rather than Alphabet. This means that if it gets big enough, it will be a division of Google, rather than a separate company under Alphabet. For the time being, everybody involved will be reporting directly to Google, though there is no information on exactly who they’ll all be reporting to within the company. CEO Sundar Pichai is a likely bet, but just about any Google leader who outranks Patterson could possibly be the person that Googlers involved in the program will be directly reporting to for now.
This will be Google’s first venture capital effort specifically aimed at AI, and unlike GV, the effort will be under Google’s umbrella, rather than Alphabet’s. It’s unclear at this point just how involved high-ranking Googlers like co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are, or Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt. It’s not stated exactly when the new investment arm plans to begin operations, or if it has a first target in mind. Google’s new incubator is not the only such venture out there aimed at AI, but it’s the first one backed by Google’s AI know-how and deep pockets.