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Google Ventures Hires an Entrepreneur-in-Residence

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Google Ventures, the search giant’s venture capital investing arm, has hired the man behind Google Voice to build a new start-up.

Craig Walker will be Google Ventures’ first entrepreneur-in-residence. He co-founded GrandCentral, the service that became Google Voice, which gives people one phone number and routes their calls and voicemails to one place. Google bought GrandCentral for a reported $45 million in 2007 and since then, Mr. Walker has been the product manager for real-time communications at Google.

Entrepreneur-in-residence is one of those only-in-Silicon-Valley jobs. Smart people get paid to sit around and think about new ideas, and investors get the chance to join an entrepreneur early in a new project, betting that lightning will strike twice.

“Craig has been a really successful start-up entrepreneur in the past,” said Bill Maris, the managing partner of Google Ventures. “This business that we’re in as V.C.s is a social business, more about people than companies or products.”

As with most relationships between entrepreneurs-in-residence and venture firms, the idea is that Google will eventually fund Mr. Walker’s next start-up.

Mr. Walker said he wass bouncing around a few ideas, but he would only speak vaguely about what they are.

“I’m interested in next-generation communications,” he said. As he did with the telephone industry at GrandCentral, he is looking for “industries that have not adapted to what I see as the future of a cloud-based computing model and more of software-as-a-service.”

“I’m looking for similar types of situations, where coming in with a new idea and approach — more of a user-centric, Web-centric technical solution — can be disruptive,” he said. “And surprisingly, there are still lot of industries like that out there.”

Another benefit of being an entrepreneur-in-residence is the ability to bounce ideas off other people before building them. That is even more of an advantage at Google Ventures, Mr. Walker said, because there are people with expertise in user interface design, usability testing, back-end engineering, marketing and many other things.

“When you are coming up with something, it is a lonely experience, you’re filled with a lot of questions,” he said. “To do it in an environment with people who have started companies and coached them is really a much more comfortable way to start a company.”

Source: The New York Times – 9/16-2010

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Written by Theophyle

September 17, 2010 at 9:28 am

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