Google's investment arm Capital has sunk $40 million into Renaissance Learning, an education technology company, in exchange for a minority stake. The equity firm officially launched Wednesday with a promise that its focus will remain on acquiring the ideal Google employees to become mentors to the portfolio companies.
The team of advisors picked from divisions across Google range from Amit Singh, president of Google Enterprise, to Marc Vanlerberghe, marketing director of Google Mobile, to Neal Mohan, VP of display advertising, and Mike Cassidy, director of Google (X). There are 32 advisors from across the company.
Google Capital will financially back the companies, while partners David Lawee, Scott Tierney and Gene Frantz lead the growth. Renaissance Learning becomes the third company that the equity firm has funded. Prior investments include SurveyMonkey, and Lending Club.
While Google Ventures focuses mainly on early-stage investments, Google Capital will look to invest in companies in the growth phases -- those that have built a solid foundation and are really ready to expand, per Lawee.
No doubt Google Capital advisers will help Renaissance Learning build the education center of the future through cloud computing, mobile devices, and a variety of online services supported by technology like wearable devices. The learning center already relies on cloud computing for assessment and teaching, which has become a huge focus for Google. The company estimates it has more than 900 employees and customers in more than one-third of U.S. schools and 60 countries worldwide. Cloud computing also requires email, storage capacity and applications like Google Docs and Spreadsheets.
Some 60% of people participating in a Pew Research Internet Project survey in July 2012 believed that by 2020 higher education would adopt teleconferencing and distance learning in what is described as "hybrid" classes that combine online and in-person meetings. The survey describes what universities will look like in 2020, but many of the features are already a reality today.