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AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Google has launched a new venture capital program focused on artificial intelligence, Axios has learned from multiple sources.

Why it matters: Google has never before had an investment effort aimed at a specific type of technology. Plus, this will be led by engineers, rather than by professional venture capitalists.

Details: The effort is being led by Anna Patterson, a longtime Google VP of engineering who specializes in AI. Also involved is Ankit Jain, who returned to Google's engineering department last month after having served as VP of product at SimilarWeb (which had acquired his startup, Quettra). Other Google AI engineers also are expected to rotate through the program, which is designed to provide startups with hands-on mentorship and, in some cases, incubation space and services. Patterson will report up through Google, rather than through Alphabet (unlike leadership of Google Ventures and growth equity group CapitalG).

Deal plans: Word is that the group is seeking to make relatively small investments, having spoken to entrepreneurs and outside VCs about check sizes of between $1 million and $10 million. If the opportunity is right, the new program may co-invest with Google Ventures.

A Google spokeswoman declined comment.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 mins ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

If both David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — the two embattled Georgia senators he was campaigning for — lost their runoff elections the following day, the GOP would lose control of the U.S. Senate. And Trump did not want the blood of Georgia on his hands.