Last month, Google announced
plans to start a health and ageing company called Calico.
Details on Calico were virtually non-existent though. While Time ran a big cover story on Calico with the headline, “Can Google Solve Death?” there was no word on what Google was spending, or how it planned to, uhh, solve death.
Dan Primack at Fortune did some digging and he came up with some of the missing details on Calico.
He doesn’t know exactly how much Google will invest in Calico, but he says it will be in the hundreds of millions doled out over time.
He also says Bill Maris, who runs Google Ventures, was the guy behind Calico. Here’s Primack’s description of Maris’ idea:
Now that the entire genome had been coded, Maris wondered if it was possible to actually study the genetic causes of ageing and then create drugs to address them (a question that was heavily influenced by talks with futurist and Googler Ray Kurzweil). For example, what if you examined the genomes of thousands of healthy 90 year-olds from all parts of the world? What genetic similarities do they have? Or, perhaps, what happens to most of us that didn’t happen to them. Even if this didn’t result in longer life, it perhaps could at least lead to an improved quality of life for folks on the back nine.
Maris started pitching investors, and eventually Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page decided Google should just fund the whole thing.
Maris talked to Art Levinson about the new company, and Levinson said he wanted to run it, which surprised Maris since he thought Levinson was done running companies.
Calico is still in the very early stages, but at least we now have a somewhat idea about how it’s going to work.