Google launches healthcare company to extend life

Sept. 19, 2013 at 1:36 PM
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Google, the U.S. technology giant, announced it is investing in a venture that would work to combat the aging process and disease.

The project will be led by biotech pioneer Arthur Levinson, who heads the boards for both Apple Inc. and Genentech Inc., although Google did not reveal other details about the venture, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., is a major investor in the California Life Co., or Calico, which will work on combating aging and disease. Levinson was named the chief executive officer and founding investor of the California Life Co., or Calico, and will report to Larry Page, Google's chief executive officer and supporter of Calico.

David Brailer, CEO of Health Evolution Partners, a private equity firm that invests in the healthcare industry, said Google set the bar extremely high, the Times said.

"Extending life is about as high as it gets on the human scale," Brailer said. "It's obviously a profoundly important goal."

Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger said previous efforts to mine data hasn't yielded "huge payoffs" in healthcare.

But, Herzlinger said, Google may have influence to speed medical breakthroughs and push for change.

"The Google guys and Levinson are geniuses and fabulous business people so they may hit gold where others have not," Herzlinger told the Times.

Page told Time magazine Calico's approach would be unconventional, just like Google.

Brailer called the venture "close to impossible," but said Levinson was the right person to lead it.

"This is about Art, about his ability to convene the right people to focus on an agenda that is realistic and bring a very pragmatic approach," he said. "I am intrigued by it and can't wait to hear more."

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