Airbus sets up shop in Silicon Valley with VC fund and tech center

An Airbus A320 airplane takes off from a runway at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, September 23, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Saul Loeb — AFP/Getty Images

Airbus Group is setting up shop in Silicon Valley, courtesy of a new venture capital fund called Airbus Group Ventures and a new technology and business innovation center.

The aerospace giant also hired some Silicon Valley veterans to oversee the new initiatives. Tim Dombrowski was poached from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz to become CEO of Airbus Group Ventures, where he’ll oversee the fund’s initial $150 million investment.

Airbus (EADSY) was also able to lure Paul Eremenko away from his role at Google as director of engineering in the Advanced Technology and Projects group. Eremenko will become CEO of the Airbus Group Silicon Valley technology and business innovation center. At Google, Eremenko oversaw the development of the company’s Project Ara modular smartphone.

“We wish our fellow pirate fair winds and following seas,” Google explained on a post detailing Eremenko’s departure.

It makes sense that Airbus would want to have a base of operations in Silicon Valley considering how much aerospace technology is being developed in the area. Bessemer Venture Partners recently launched an aerospace investment practice in March to scout for innovative startups.

California-based startups like Planet Labs and SpaceX have also shown that NASA isn’t the only entity pouring millions of dollars into aerospace research and development. These new aerospace companies join a host of Bay Area startups like Matternet and Skycatch, which have been making names for themselves in the world of drones and unmanned aircraft.

There’s a lot of aerospace engineering talent now located in California that Airbus could perhaps tap into, as well as a number of interesting startups that the new fund might want to target.

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