Google has announced it will be starting a new company, Calico, focused on healthcare and biotechnology.
Google is getting back into healthcare, and this time it looks to be much more ambitious than Google Health. In a Google+ post, company CEO and co-founder Larry Page announced that Calico will be a new company that will “focus on health and wellbeing, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.” Arthur Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Calico’s CEO.
Calico could signal more ambitious projects from Google,like the self-driving car.
The search giant has been well known for playing in different sandboxes from social media, to television, and even automotive, but its goals as a healthcare and biotechnology company seem particularly lofty. “OK … so you’re probably thinking wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today. And you’re right,” Page says in his Google+ post. He goes on in a press statement, “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.”
While the company hasn’t released any specific plans or indications of future products or services, Page says that folks shouldn’t be surprised if Google starts investing in projects that seem “strange or speculative” in comparison with Google’s existing business. So as not to worry shareholders, he also pointed out that investments like these are very small in comparison to Google’s core business.
Google Health, the company’s last foray into healthcare was an attempt to store patient medical records online that was abandoned amidst privacy concerns. App developers have also had their eyes on Google Glass as an exciting platform for developing software in the healthcare space. However, Google recently flummoxed many app developers by denying Glass the ability to recognize faces. Perhaps what Calico signals in Google is that the company isn’t quite ready to let third parties have all the fun in the healthcare space just yet. Whether the company moves in this direction or does something grander in biotech along the lines of its automated car project remains to be seen.