Bill Maris, managing partner and president of Google’s investment fund, Google Ventures, seems pretty sure of some amazing things, like curing cancer and living to be 500. Maris told Bloomberg:
“If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes.”
Google Ventures invested early on in Uber and Nest, but lately they’ve been focusing on investing in science and oncology, the study of tumors and cancer. In 2014, they led a $130 million Series B for New York startup Flatiron Health, which developed a cloud platform that analyzes cancer data.
“In 20 years, chemo will seem so primitive it will be like using a telegraph.”
Google Ventures also has a 4% stake in Foundation Medicine, a company that looks at genetic information to personalize cancer treatments for patients. According to BThisusiness Insider, Foundation Medicine was acquired by the largest biotech company in the world, Roche, which too a majority interest in january.
“Twenty years ago, without genomics, you could only treat cancer with a poison. That’s really different from, ‘We can cure your cancer by reverse-engineering a stem cell.’ You can now legitimately invest in a company that could cure cancer.”
Maris also knows how to invest the right way — his team isn’t just comprised of financial analysts looking for profitability, but experts in oncology and life sciences. Google Ventures is made up of a team of 70, and there are 17 investment partners, some of whom are doctors with the medical knowledge and expertise to make informed decisions on science startups — Boston-based Dr. Krishna Yeshwant led Google Ventures’ investment in Flatiron Health, for example.
An excerpt from the Bloomberg profile paints a picture of how Maris is funding the greatest fight against the diseases that plague humanity and even time and aging itself:
“ ‘We are just on the verge of what science and technology can do,’ says David Shaywitz, chief medical officer of DNAnexus, who’s seated across from Byers and Hodak. His company, also backed by Google Ventures, is building a global bank of genomic information using cloud computing.
Listening to the scientists gathered around the table, it’s hard not to get caught up in the world they see coming. In this vision of our future, science will be able to fix the damage that the sun or smoking or too much wine inflicts on our DNA. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other scourges of aging will be repaired at the molecular level and eradicated. In the minds of this next generation of entrepreneurs, the possibilities are bizarre and hopeful and endless. We probably won’t live forever, but we could live much longer, and better.
These are the bets Google Ventures is hoping will ultimately be its biggest wins. ‘We aren’t trying to gain a few yards,’ Maris says. ‘We are trying to win the game. And part of it is that it is better to live than to die.’ ”