Ver­sus death

Hu­man­ity’s big­gest chal­lenge.

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - Si­mon Din­gle

Google CEO Larr y Page doesn’t like small am­bi­tions. He fa­mously pushes the en­ve­lope of ideas at Google to think be­yond what is pos­si­ble. That’s how a com­pany with the mis­sion of or­gan­is­ing the world’s in­for­ma­tion and mak­ing it eas­ier to ac­cess ends up dom­i­nat­ing the mo­bile phone mar­ket and de­vel­op­ing self­driv­ing cars, along with glasses that pro­ject im­ages onto the retina of a hu­man eye. In Page’s world the chal­lenge must be mas­sive be­fore Google embarks on so­lu­tions. This has led to its next mis­sion – to de­feat death.

Cal­ico is a com­pany founded by Google to this end. A state­ment re­leased on the cre­ation of the ven­ture said that Cal­ico “will fo­cus on health and well-be­ing, in par­tic­u­lar the chal­lenge of ag­ing and as­so­ci­ated dis­eases.” The com­pany is be­ing led by Arthur Levin­son, chair­man and for­mer CEO of Ge­nen­tech and chair­man of Ap­ple. He will be CEO and a found­ing in­vestor of Cal­ico.

Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook com­mented on Levin­son’s ap­point­ment say­ing: “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.”

In true Google style, Larry Page an­nounced the new com­pany on his Google+ page say­ing, “Art and I are ex­cited about tack­ling ag­ing and ill­ness. Th­ese is­sues af­fect us all – from the 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. And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we be­lieve we can make good progress within rea­son­able timescales with the right goals and the right peo­ple.”

He also made the point that this in­vest­ment pails in com­par­i­son to what Google spends on its core busi­ness, al­lay­ing share­holder con­cerns.

It’s a grand am­bi­tion aligned with Page’s fa­mous ‘moon-shot’ ap­proach to new ven­tures. Oh, and in case you were won­der­ing, the name Cal­ico is short for Cal­i­for­nia Life Com­pany, ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia.

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