Google Inc. has called on venture capital heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to spur creation of software for Google Glass, its wearable mobile-computing devices that resemble spectacles.
The search giant's venture arm is joining with the Silicon Valley venture firms to share information about software startups seeking funds to build Google Glass apps, the companies said in a press briefing Wednesday at Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
The investor coalition, called the Glass Collective, is betting that wearable computers will grow into a platform for third-party software developers the same way Apple Inc.'s mobile devices fueled the formation of thousands of mobile-app makers. The VCs will jointly fund startups that dream up new uses for Google Glass in areas such as entertainment, education and health care.
"There's hundreds of thousands of things people are going to be able to do." The three investors will use capital from existing funds to support the project and don't intend to create a new fund or invite other VCs to join, Google Ventures Managing Partner Bill Maris said at the event.
Google Glass has already gained support from large mobile-app developers, including Path Inc. and Twitter Inc., which have begun looking at ways to adapt their services to the new technology, Kleiner Perkins General Partner John Doerr said.
"This could well be more than another platform," said Doerr, whose firm invested in Path and Twitter. "This could be a whole new way of appreciating the world. It's amplified reality." Google plans this month to start shipping Glass Explorer Edition, early versions of the glasses designed to let developers tinker with new applications, the company said.
The Glass Collective plans to back app makers even though there isn't yet a business model for such software, Andreessen said.
"At some point, it would be nice to build apps for Glass that you can charge for," he said. "That's not a precondition" to investing, he added.
When asked about apps they'd like to see on Google Glass, the investors showed different interests. Maris said he would like to see science programs. Doerr saw a need for more visual online-education apps. Andreessen said he wanted a zombie game.
Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder who strode into yesterday's meeting sweaty from a bike ride, said he'd like an app that monitors his heart rate while he rides.
Extolling the benefits of Google Glass in February, Brin said that standing upright and summoning information to the eyes is a more elegant use of the body than "rubbing a featureless piece of glass." Hunching over a smartphone while walking about, he said, is "emasculating."