Google says it has launched a new health company, called Calico, that will focus on aging and related diseases.
The Internet search giant said Wednesday that the company will be headed by Arthur Levinson, the current chairman and former CEO of biotechnology company Genentech and the chairman of Apple Inc. He will stay in his current positions.
Google Inc. CEO Larry Page says on his Google Plus page that shareholders shouldn't be surprised if Google invests in projects that seem "strange or speculative" compared with its Internet businesses. He says Google sees potential for technology "more generally to improve people's lives."
Google is not giving much detail on Calico. The company says the venture is still in its early days.
"I'm not proposing that we spend all of our money on those kinds of speculative things," Google CEO Larry Page told Time . "But we should be spending a commensurate amount with what normal types of companies spend on research and development, and spend it on things that are a little more long-term and a little more ambitious than people normally would. More like moon shots."
Like Google, Calico will be no ordinary company. The company -- the name is short for the "California Life Company" -- will be headed up by Arthur D. Levinson, chairman and former CEO of Genentech and the chairman of Apple.
Calico's unveiling was coordinated with a Time magazine cover story on the project, appropriately titled "Google vs. Death."
LINK: Read the article here: http://techland.time.com/2013/09/18/google-vs-death/
"It's worth pointing out that there is no other company in Silicon Valley that could plausibly make such an announcement," wrote Harry McCracken and Lev Grossman . "Smaller outfits don't have the money; larger ones don't have the bones. Apple may have set the standard for surprise unveilings but, excepting a major new product every few years, these mostly qualify as short-term."
"Last week Apple announced a gold iPhone; what did you do this week, Google? Oh, we founded a company that might one day defeat death itself," they wrote.
What the company will actually do is unclear, however, and not even Time could tease out the details. Google is good at analyzing and working with large data sets, the writers noted, and the company might research new technologies.
Or it might not.
Regardless, the problems Calico seeks to solve are ones that affect us all, Page said in an statement about the new company.
"Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."
And if Calico can do that, everyone benefits -- whether or not they own an iPhone.