Google Takes On Death
In what can only be called a case of business makes for strange bedfellows, Apple’s current Board Chair, Arthur Levinson, is launching a new company with Google. Called Calico, the company’s purpose is to extend human longevity, and perhaps even cure what ails us all in the end, death. And truly that’s about all anyone is saying. No plans have been put forth on exactly how Calico will accomplish this feat, and to be honest, if it were easy someone else would have figured it all out by now.
You have to admire Levinson and Google for launching such an ambitious project, but taking on out of the box type ventures is not unusual for Google. Launching a new company to foster those ideas is an unusual move for the company though. Typically Google tinkers with thought provoking ideas internally through its uber-secretive Google X division or invests in favorable startups through Google Ventures. Since the return of CEO Larry Page in the spring of 2011, the company has worked on driverless vehicles, balloons in the stratosphere with Internet connections, and Internet connected glasses. It’s all in a day’s work for the company which has plenty of cash on hand to throw at new and different ideas.
Levinson, who will lead Calico, and will remain the Chairman of Apple, has devoted most of his life to science and technology. He is the former Chief Executive and current Chairman of biotechnology giant Genentech, one of the world’s oldest and most successful biotech firms. The privately held company has a string of successful cancer therapies based on its antibody technologies.
It’s doubtful that Google and Calico will be churning out results anytime soon, at least not at the rate they spin out Nexus phones and tablets. But the money from those mobile devices will definitely be financing Calico. Real research takes time and the results are often disappointing. Just ask any pharmaceutical company that has had a promising new drug go through clinical trials only to be shot down in the final phase. It happens every day.
Google CEO Larry Page described the project to Time:
In some industries, it takes 10 or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Health care is certainly one of those areas. We should shoot for the things that are really, really important, so 10 or 20 years from now we have those things done.”
In the end, the idea is extremely altruistic and nothing short of brilliant. I applaud Google for making us all want to live longer, possibly forever. The project may be ambitious, but in the larger scheme of things isn’t that what we all want? To live forever? Well played Google. Well played. Rest assured, we all want you to succeed.
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