A group of Silicon Valley heavyweights have formed an investment group specifically designed to support startups inspired by Google Glass, opening the Google gadget up to a range of new possibilities.
The group is called the Glass Collective and it is comprised of several leading technology venture capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (investors in Zynga, Groupon, and Twitter), Andreessen Horowitz (Instagram, Foursquare, and Facebook), and Google's own investment arm, Google Ventures.
KPCB's involvement is of particular interest considering the firm's previous investments in hardware-focused innovations such as the Jawbone UP, a fitness monitoring bracelet.
"I saw a first prototype of Glass at a confidential briefing in September 2011, [and the] experience was, well, eye-opening," said KPCB's John Doerr. "It's early days, but we believe the potential for Glass exceeds what's possible on today's platforms. It goes well beyond the world of websites, documents, and mobile apps."
KPCB's early support of Glass mirrors the firm's aggressive early stage support for another transformative device, the iPhone. Back in 2008, the firm partnered with Apple to launch a $100 million (£65 million) investment initiative called the iFund to help spark innovation and activity from developers interested in launching new applications on iOS. In subsequent years, that fund has increased exponentially to match the popularity and broad scope of the developers and businesses harnessing the iOS platform.
Although no figures have been released regarding the size of the Glass Collective fund, it's clear that the group is expecting the same level of mainstream adoption with Glass, despite the device's radically different approach to computing. Initially, the Glass Collective fund will be limited to investments in the US, with particular attention paid to startups focused on consumer and enterprise technologies in the areas of navigation, messaging, search, and overall data sharing.
Andreessen Horowitz's Marc Andreessen, an investor in another next-gen computing device known as the Leap Motion (a kind of Minority Report-style interface for your PC), seemed particularly excited about the announcement.
"The thesis of Glass is profoundly transformational," said Andreessen (above, left). "And as with the Internet and smartphones, a huge amount of work will be done by third-party developers to fully realize the Glass vision. Glass brings developers a new springboard for creativity and an amazing new platform to build the defining applications of the future."
"Glass is a potentially transformative technology. It's a window into the world's information, and a new way to share experiences with those you care about," Bill Maris, vice president of Google Ventures, said in a blog post.
At this point, meanwhile, Google has offered the $1,500 (£975) Explorer Edition of Google Glass to developers and a few thousand people who were selected as part of the #IfIHadGlass competition. During a presentation at the Glass Collective unveiling yesterday, Steve Lee, product lead on the Glass team, said that Google "will hopefully this month start shipping to developers," a Google spokesman confirmed.