Google launches Calico, a health company focused on extending life

Google's Calico will attempt to tackle the universal challenge of aging and related diseases.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Google wants to help you live longer.

On Wednesday, Google Chief Executive Larry Page announced the launch of Calico, a company that will focus on health and well-being. In particular, Calico will attempt to tackle the universal challenge of aging and related diseases.

“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,” Page said in his post on Google+. “And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable time scales with the right goals and the right people.”

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Art Levinson, former chief executive of Genentech, will be Calico’s chief executive and a founding investor. Levinson is also chairman of Apple and will remain in that position, leading to a statement of support from Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook.

“For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking,” Cook said. “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.”

Page said details were still scarce because the project is in its early stages. He thanked fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin “for consistently supporting 10X thinking like this” and noted that the Mountain View company’s investments in such new ventures “are very small” in comparison to its core business.

“So you’re probably thinking, ‘Wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today.’ And you’re right,” Page said. “But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives. So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses.”


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