Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is getting into the growing healthcare business. CEO Larry Page announced on Wednesday that Google has formed Calico, a new startup that will work toward improvements in human health and well-being.
In an official press release, Google says that Calico will focus on “aging and associated diseases.” The search giant is now a major provider of smartphones and tablets (Android), online video (YouTube), internet browsers (Chrome), and will now attempt to extend human life through advances in healthcare.
It seems different from Google’s Internet ventures, but compared to other “moonshots” like Project Loon and the self-driving car, Calico is in some ways a little more down-to-earth. Google cannot serve ads to dead people, after all. Page himself told Time Magazine that while healthcare is far removed from the search giant’s core business, the vision is in line with Google’s original vision of “tremendous potential for technology … to improve people’s lives.”
Here are the five things you need to know about Calico:
1) Google is not looking to cure cancer
At least, not at first.
Page told Time that he was amazed to learn that the increase in worldwide life expectancy resulting from a cure for cancer would only be three years. So, instead of looking for a cure for cancer, Page says that Calico will focus on ways to tackle issues such as “decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families.”
2) Google is expected to use its data-processing prowess to solve health issues
Page said that Google has realized over the years that the more resources it has in the most number of industries, the easier it is for the company to “do more things, get more things solved.” That means that the company will likely utilize its powerful data centers to help Calico researchers utilize data, research illnesses and solve problems.
3) Calico will be led by Apple Chairman Arthur Levinson
Arthur Levinson will act as chief executive and investor in Calico, and is currently the CEO of healthcare firm Genentech, a position he is expected to retain. Levinson is also chairman of the board at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), replacing founder Steve Jobs after his death in 2011. Levinson was also formerly on the board at Google.
Levinson began his career as a molecular biologist and is also an inventor who holds more than 11 U.S. patents.
4) Calico is going to start small
Google has not announced the numbers yet -- how much it will put into Calico and how many people, but Time reported that sources say Calico is starting with a small number of employees. The small staff will initially focus on “researching new technology.”
5) Calico may take a decade or more to produce results
“In some industries, it takes ten or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real,” Page said. “Healthcare is certainly one of those areas … Maybe we should shoot for the things that are really, really important so ten or 20 years from now we have those things done.”
How do you feel about Google’s latest venture? What do you hope that Calico will develop first?