Google announced yesterday that it’s formed a new company called Calico, which will focus on health and well-being, particularly with respect to the challenge of aging and associated diseases.
Interestingly, the company will be headed by current Apple Chairman and and former Genentech CEO Arthur D. Levinson. Calico will focus on developing technologies to tackle health issues related to aging. No other details about the new company were released.
In a Time cover story about the initiative, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page said:
In some industries, it takes 10 or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Health care is certainly one of those areas. We should shoot for the things that are really, really important, so 10 or 20 years from now we have those things done.
Google already has a head start with access to a growing genomic database thanks to its investment in 23andMe.
In his posting on Google+, Larry Page noted that Calico is “a lot different from what Google does today.” “There’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives,” he wrote, “so don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses. And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business.”
Digital insights have become very important in disease research. The new healthcare company will leverage Google’s massive cloud and data centers to help accelerate research on disease and aging.
Why the name Calico? The founders have said they that the name sounds like a truncated version of “California Life Co.” Another is a reference to Calico cats. Cats have nine lives, and Calico the healthcare company will attempt to extend life itself.
Art Levinson will remain Chairman of Genentech and a director of Hoffmann-La Roche, as well as Chairman of Apple.