Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Google fund founder Maris launches Section 32 with about US$150 million

NY Times News Service, SAN FRANCISCO

Bill Maris surprised many people in August last year when he stepped down from GV, the huge venture capital fund associated with Google, and left many wondering what he would do next.

Now, he is unveiling his new effort.

Maris announced on Tuesday that he has opened a new fund, Section 32, with about US$150 million under management. It is to invest in a variety of industries, from healthcare to agriculture technology.

“I left GV and knew that I wanted to start a fund of my own,” he said in a telephone interview. “My whole career has been about building things from scratch. I just wanted to do it at a different scale.”

It is the latest move for Maris, who began his career at the Swedish investment firm Investor AB before founding a Web hosting company that he later sold. He is best known for joining what is now Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and setting up what was initially known as Google Ventures.

At GV, Maris took pride in building what he has said was a real venture firm within the confines of a huge corporation.

Among GV’s most successful bets were investments like Uber, Slack and Jet.com, which was sold to Wal-Mart last summer for about US$3.3 billion.

Maris left GV amid a sweeping corporate reorganization at Google.

He has said that the changes there had nothing to do with his departure.

After leaving, he considered setting up a new fund, but one on a bigger scale, with reports putting its target at about US$230 million.

Then he changed his mind, Maris said.

“There was something about it that didn’t feel entirely right,” he said. “People sometimes make the mistake of judging funds by size.”

Maris ultimately decided that he wanted to return to venture capital, at what has become Section 32.

However, he has aimed for a smaller operation, with him as the sole general partner for now.

It operates from his home in San Diego, rather than Silicon Valley.

Section 32 is to invest in a broad array of sectors, despite speculation that Maris, who studied neuroscience at Middlebury College in Vermont, would focus solely on health-related start-ups.

Maris acknowledged that the venture capital industry is awash in money — about US$121 billion in capital is waiting to be deployed, according to estimates from Goldman Sachs.

However, he said that there was still room for another new fund and that plenty of opportunities for successful investments still exist.

“We’re looking at unprecedented opportunities that can have impact and can be at a scale that were not totally imaginable in the past,” Maris said.

“There’s always one part of the market that’s a little frothy. I tend to avoid the trendier areas for that reason,” he said.

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