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While Google’s foray into the channel with Google Docs and its search
appliance has gotten a lackluster response, solution providers in the near
future may find themselves involuntarily partnering with Google through
acquisitions and the extended Google investment network.

Google created a venture capital fund to back startup companies developing
innovative products in Internet services, software, hardware, green IT, clean
energy technologies, biotechnologies and health care.

"We think we can find young companies with truly awesome potential and
encourage their development into successful businesses," wrote Bill Maris
and Rich Miner, the two executives charged with leading the venture fund, in a
post on Google’s blog.

Large, established vendors invest in smaller companies, betting their
innovations will create new business opportunities, features for their existing
products or simply a positive ROI should they go public or get acquired.

"Acquisitions by Google of portfolio companies are possible, but this
is not the goal or focus of our investment activities. Our focus is building
great companies and generating long term financial return," the Google
fund’s Web site said.

While Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick and its interest in technologies
tangential to its core search business overshadow its other investments, Google
has made several strategic investments and acquisitions over the years.

Two of the more interesting Google acquisitions were Green Borders and
Postini in 2007. Green Borders was an innovative browser security startup that
provided a quasi-sandbox that protected Web surfers from malicious Websites.
Postini was an e-mail security service, which guarded digital communications
from malware and spam.

Postini was a channel-centric venture with several hundred partners. Once
Google acquired the company, Postini partners fell under the auspices of
Google’s sales organization.

Separate from the investment fund, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey
Brin are two of the major investors backing Tesla Motors, the startup
manufacturer of high-performance electric sports cars.  Tesla recently
unveiled its new Model S, which features integrated 3G connectivity and a 17-inch
touch-screen monitor for checking the Internet.