Ex-Googlers becoming VCs: More advertising fixation to come?

Google understands advertising and search. Can ex-Googlers think beyond these confines?

To the person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To the ex-Googler, does everything look like advertising? That's the question I asked myself while reading this New York Times' article on ex-Googlers who want to parlay their wealth into venture capital.

"Google arguably is at the center of the online advertising ecosystem," said Roger Lee, a general partner at Battery Ventures...."If you understand how Google works and how associated business models work, it gives you a great lens to understand other advertising companies."

Maybe. But who cares? That is, unless you're investing in advertising companies (of which there aren't actually that many, and certainly not many in Silicon Valley or Boston, where Battery largely operates). We've already seen a multitude of Google wannabes trying to monetize the web through advertising, and it turns out that advertising is a very blunt tool to apply to the various types of web businesses.

Just because it works for Google, in other words, does not mean it's even remotely relevant to the web, generally. It remains to be seen how broadly the lessons learned from building Google will apply to the web at large. Or, rather, whether Googlers have learned the right lessons.

Advertising is not the lesson. Data arguably is. Providing for abundance and then trimming it down to manageable portions is. Etc.

It's great to have a new roster of wealthy, intelligent investors joining the investment market. It remains to be seen, however, if a home run with Google will translate into a burgeoning number of follow-on "home run" investments.

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