Google announces Calico, a new company focused on health and well-being

September 18, 2013

(Credit: Google)

Google announced Calico, a new company that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases. Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer and a founding investor.

Announcing this new investment, Larry Page, Google CEO said: “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. It’s impossible to imagine anyone better than Art — one of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and CEOs of our generation — to take this new venture forward.” Art said: “I’ve devoted much of my life to science and technology, with the goal of improving human health. Larry’s focus on outsized improvements has inspired me, and I’m tremendously excited about what’s next.”

Art Levinson will remain Chairman of Genentech and a director of Hoffmann-La Roche, as well as Chairman of Apple.

Commenting on Art’s new role, Franz Humer, Chairman of Hoffmann-La Roche, said: “Art’s track record at Genentech has been exemplary, and we see an interesting potential for our companies to work together going forward. We’re delighted he’ll stay on our board.

“Calico is an abbreviation for the “California Life Company,” but if you’re thinking about cats, we like the old saying that they have nine lives,” he said on his Google+ page.

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, said: “For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn’t have to be this way. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results.”

“Are people really focused on the right things?” Page muses in TIME. “One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you’d add about three years to people’s average life expectancy.

“We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world. But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think.”

Page, in other words, is a man for whom solving — not curing — cancer may not be a big enough task, TIME notes.

Google and the Brief History of Immortality (video)