Google has launched a new venture capital program focused on artificial intelligence, Axios is reporting.
Google declined to comment on the report, which states that the initiative will be led by longtime Google VP of engineering Anna Patterson and involve a rotating cast of engineers instead of the venture investors who work for Alphabet Inc.’s corporate venture unit, GV.
It isn’t completely surprising that Google might create an investing practice around AI, particularly given Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s recent pronouncement that Google is becoming “AI first” rather than “mobile first.”
Indeed, AI was the running thread throughout the recent Google I/O developer conference, where the company introduced new tensor processing unit (TPU) chips that promise to more quickly train and run AI models for researchers and businesses; it also announced (among many other things) that its Google Assistant, the company’s virtual personal assistant that’s available on devices like the Google Home and Pixel phone, will soon grow more conversational.
Also potentially playing into this new development: Google’s recent acquisition of Kaggle, a platform that hosts data science and machine learning competitions.
According to Axios, Patterson and company will reportedly be co-investing with GV when it makes sense to do so. Check sizes, it says, will range from $1 million and $10 million to start, though it isn’t yet clear how much Google plans to commit to the program, yearly or otherwise.