Three Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms have decided to throw their weight behind Google Glass, creating a major opportunity for tech entrepreneurs. Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are teaming up for the Glass Collective, an effort designed to encourage and offer seed funding to entrepreneurs who are building apps for Glass, Google's new wearable computer.
Google Glass is a tiny computer built into a pair of glasses, allowing users to do things like take pictures and video, get directions and translate foreign languages -- all from a head-mounted display. Underneath that "cool pair of sunglasses" is a platform that could be as revolutionary for people's experience of the internet as the web browser has been, says Margit Wennmachers, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
"It's very early days, but if you put on Google Glass, then you're like, 'Yeah, that's the future,'" says Wennmachers. But to see its full potential, Glass will "need to be an open platform with many, many developers creating apps that delight users," she says.
Each of the three firms will have a point person who will share any Glass-related pitches with the other Collective members. Entrepreneurs will be able to pitch their ideas to any or all of the firms, and each member of the Collective will be able to choose whether or not to fund a given startup.
Some standard rules when pitching investors -- such as proving scale and having existing customers -- won't apply when contacting the Glass Collective. Andreessen Horowitz, for example, has "a seven-to-10-year investment horizon," Wennmachers says, which means it will fund Glass-related startups that don't yet have any user base or revenue model.
"People overestimate what will happen in the short term and underestimate what will happen in the long term," Wennmachers says, noting that it will take time for Glass to become widely used.
Because it's too early to tell what arenas might present the largest opportunities for Glass, Andreessen Horowitz is not setting a limit on how much the firm is willing to invest in Glass apps, nor is it ruling out any kinds of startup ideas. "We're ready to make the long-term bets," Wennmachers says.
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