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Rich Miner of Google Ventures talks about the search giant's funding strategy, the new Glass Collective, and the future of mobile [Audio]

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 10, 2013 12:32 PM

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A few interesting morsels from my on-stage interview yesterday with Rich Miner, at MassTLC's Mobile Summit...

•  Android, the startup that Miner cofounded with Andy Rubin, was initially focused on developing an operating system for digital cameras, before Miner and Rubin decided that smartphones might provide a bigger opportunity. It was acquired by Google in 2005, before it raised any outside capital.

• We might not have a Cambridge office of Google if not for that acquisition; Miner didn't want to move to Silicon Valley, and so he persuaded the company to set up an office in Kendall Square to work on elements of the Android operating system.

• Google Ventures has a budget of $300 million a year to invest in startups; its local portfolio includes companies like HubSpot, Adelphic Mobile, LevelUp, Sold, and CustomMade.

• "We're just looking for incredibly bright people that have ideas that we think are really big ideas," Miner says of Google Ventures. "That's what we want to back and invest in. ...The number one criteria is the strength and intelligence and the fire in the belly of the team you're investing in."

• "I don't know if there's an anchor [mobile company in Boston]. I certainly think we have a very strong and healthy mobile ecosystem." What the local scene could use more of, Miner says, is people with experience in mobile design and user experience.

• Miner wasn't wearing Google Glass at the event, but he said he has found it valuable for capturing video and pictures of fleeting moments, like his son learning to ride a bike.

• Miner says that he has been "seeing interesting companies" developing applications for Glass, but that Google Ventures hasn't announced any investments yet. His firm is collaborating with Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz to scout for promising Glass-related startups.

• He believes "the time has never been better" in Boston for startups seeking early-stage funding.

• He referenced LuminAR, an intelligent desktop display prototype built at the MIT Media Lab, as an interesting new direction for computing.

• Miner didn't exactly love being compared to Willie Wonka, in this column I wrote in 2007. (Still don't know why...)

Audio of the complete session is below. As usual, audience questions were not well-miked.

(The photo above, of Miner wearing Google Glass, is courtesy of Colin Raney. It initially appeared on Fred Destin's blog.)

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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