Google has today announced a new AI investment channel in the form of 'Gradient Ventures'. Like some other venture capital groups, Gradient Ventures is more interested in developing companies, so this is a venture arm designed with early-stage startups in mind. The announcement from Google on Gradient Ventures makes it clear that in addition to simply providing capital, Gradient Ventures will also look to provide additional resources and “technical mentorship.” With the announcement further explaining that “dedicated access to experts” as well as bootcamps will be available to those who receive backing from Gradient Ventures. With the announcement also confirming that Gradient Ventures, and thereby, Google, will occupy a minority stake in any of the companies backed.
In the process of announcing the new VC firm, Google has also confirmed that Gradient Ventures has already started off its portfolio, as it is currently backing four companies, lgorithmia, Cogniac, CAPE, and Aurima. While the four companies do have AI in common, they are approaching the technology from different angles. For instance, lgorithmia is an open marketplace for algorithms, while CAPE looks to improve the ability to control drones remotely. Likewise, while Aurima is focused on deep learning AI modeling, Cogniacis seems to be more interested in the enterprise capabilities of AI.
What is different about Gradient Ventures, is its focus on AI-powered technology. It is clear that Google, among others, is becoming more interested in the development of AI and Gradient Ventures seems to be the next step in Google realizing those AI ambitions. This latest announcement is of particular importance as Alphabet already has two venture groups under its wing. The first is GV which like Gradient Ventures, looks to help startups, including early-stage investments. The second is CapitalG and this one is more focused on later-stage investments - where a lot of the work has already been done and where funding is more the issue. The difference between GV/CapitalG and Gradient Ventures however, is the clear focus on one industry in particular, AI. The other two venture arms are more open to different industries and technologies. Gradient Ventures in contrast, is seemingly designed to help forward the momentum behind AI, and AI alone. In addition, unlike the other two venture groups which are now based under Alphabet, it seems Gradient Ventures falls under Google.