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Google’s Calico to Use ‘Moonshot Thinking’ to Improve Life for Millions of Aging People

New company will focus on health and well-being to better meet the challenges of aging

Larry Page, CEO of Google

Larry Page, Google CEO and co-founder

Sept. 19, 2013 – Based on the confidence that “moonshot thinking” applied to healthcare and biotechnology can “improve millions of lives,” Google yesterday launched a new company – Calico – that will focus on health and the challenge of aging and associated diseases.

Leading the challenge will be Chief Executive Officer and founding investor Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple. Levinson will remain Chairman of Genentech and a director of Hoffmann-La Roche, as well as Chairman of Apple.

Larry Page, Google CEO made the announcement and said: “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.”

"Calico is an abbreviation for the “California Life Company,” but if you’re thinking about cats, we like the old saying that they have nine lives... "
Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman, Genentech and Chairman Apple, CEO Calico

Page added, “It’s impossible to imagine anyone better than Art - one of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and CEOs of our generation - to take this new venture forward.”

Art said: “I’ve devoted much of my life to science and technology, with the goal of improving human health. Larry’s focus on outsized improvements has inspired me, and I’m tremendously excited about what’s next.”

Commenting on Art’s new role, Franz Humer, Chairman of Hoffmann-La Roche, said: “Art’s track record at Genentech has been exemplary, and we see an interesting potential for our companies to work together going forward. We’re delighted he’ll stay on our board.”

 

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Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, said: “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.”

On his blog, Page wrote, "OK … so you’re probably thinking wow!  That’s a lot different from what Google does today.  And you’re right.  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.  And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business."

Levinson, on his blog, wrote, "I suspect there are a lot of questions, such as how this came about, what we hope to accomplish, and why 'Calico.'

"When I served on Google’s board, +Larry Page and I got to know each other well—and when he and Bill Maris approached me about a venture that would take the long term view on aging and illness, I was deeply intrigued. For example, what underlies aging?  Might there be a direct link between certain diseases and the aging process? We agreed that with great people, a strong culture and vision and a healthy disregard for the impossible, we could make progress tackling these questions, and improving people’s lives."
 

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