Google Voice CEO Craig Walker Launches Firespotter, A Google Ventures Funded Incubator

When Google Voice (previously GrandCentral) cofounder and CEO Craig Walker left Google last year, he didn’t go far. In fact, he just went across the street to set up a desk at Google Ventures as an entrepreneur in residence.

At the time he told me his goal was to start a new company. Now, he tells me, he wants to start lots of them.

He and his team (former Google Voice engineers Brian Peterson and John Rector, and Alex Cornell) are launching Firespotter Labs today, an incubator for new startups. The company has also taken an initial $3 million round of funding from Google Ventures (keepin it in the family!). Wesley Chan joins Firespotter’s board of directors.

Just another incubator? Maybe. But Walker has direct experience with the idea. Grand Central came out of a successful incubator, Minor Ventures. He says he wants to take the parts of Minor Ventures that worked, and then tweak a few things.

For example, he says, Minor Ventures tended to come up with ideas and then hire a team to build those ideas and carry the companies forward. Walker says that Firespotter Labs will build the initial products using its own permanent in house team. When and if an idea has legs, then they’ll hire a team and spin off the company to get outside funding.

Boutique incubators are somewhat in vogue right now. Betaworks continues to do well, and Churn Labs, founded by Admob founder Omar Hamoui, is off to a great start with backing from Sequoia.

So when will we see some actual operating startups coming out of Firespotter? Sometime soon, says Walker. That $3 million, he says, is enough to get 4-6 companies off the ground.