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Google Launches $100M Venture Fund

What's next for Google? Quite simply, a search for "what's next?"

The search giant this week announced the launch of Google Ventures, a new venture capital fund focused on helping young companies with what it described as "awesome potential."

Google Ventures could invest up to $100 million over the next 12 months, the company confirmed in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

While the fund may invest in companies with a likelihood of augmenting Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) core search portfolio, its goals are much broader. In a blog post authored by its two new managing partners, Google Ventures said it will focus on early-stage investments across a diverse range of industries, including consumer Internet, software, clean-tech, bio-tech and healthcare. If that wasn't enough, the post adds "...and, no doubt, other areas we haven't thought of yet."

Still, Google makes clear it's not interested in a return to the high flying dotcom era of ten years ago, when many a wacky Web idea received funding.

"First and foremost, we're looking for entrepreneurs who are tackling problems in creative and innovative ways. As a venture fund, however, we're also looking for investments with the potential for significant financial return," Google Ventures said in an FAQ.

Google Ventures is being overseen by an investment committee that includes Dave Drummond, who continues in his role as senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer at Google.

Google Ventures launches with two managing partners long on tech startup experience. Bill Maris was founder of Web host Burlee.com, which he subsequently sold to Interland (and is now known as Web.com). Prior to that, Bill was a portfolio manager for Stockholm, Sweden-based Investor AB, an industrial holding company, where he co-managed its biotechnology and healthcare portfolios.

Rich Miner makes the move to Ventures after three years at Google where he helped lead development of the mobile Android platform. Miner joined Google in 2005 after it bought Android, which he co-founded. Prior to Android, he served as a vice president at Orange, where he led R&D activities in North America. While there, he began and served as a principal in Orange Ventures.

Miner is based at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., while Maris is based in Boston.

Separately, Google continues to operate its philanthropic investment arm, Google.org.