No suggestion here that GOOG is being altruistic, just that this is the way the new entrepreneur and investor class thinks. Opportunity and money are to be found in technologies that improve the way we live, work, play, eat, and think... and perhaps even improve the world.
To Google Ventures this has already meant wind farms, carbon emission reduction systems, green vehicles, and medical cures. To former Microsoft chief scientist Nathan Myhrvold and his high-level think tank, Intellectual Ventures, this means creating TerraPower - a company intending to revolutionize the nuclear power by developing reactors run on waste uranium - and also actively looking at regenerative medicine technologies.
Having formed the fund a little over a year ago, Google is only now starting to make a splash with the fund. Officially the fund has no specific industry focus saying on the Google Ventures website FAQ:
We are interested in a wide range of industries, including (but not limited to) consumer Internet, software, hardware, clean-tech, biotech, health care and others. First and foremost, we're looking for entrepreneurs who are tackling problems in creative and innovative ways, with the potential for significant financial return.Unofficially and yet not so quietly, Google has named a few broad areas of interest. An article in Monday's New York Times quoted Google Ventures' managing partner, Bill Maris as saying that while they were not going to name particular investment themes, a few broad ares of interest include:
regenerative medicine, bioinformatics, cloud storage, companies that use large data sets, online monetization and mobile.There it is. Regenerative medicine right there front and center.
In typical Google tradition, Maris, who looks all of 30 years old on the website, has a successfull and multidisciplinary track record. He was involved in founding Web hosting pioneer Burlee.com (now part of Web.com), where he built much of the key computing, network and technological infrastructure.Prior to that, Bill was a biotechnology and healthcare portfolio manager for Stockholm, Sweden-based Investor AB. Bill’s background also includes research at the Duke University Medical Center, Department of Neurobiology.
Google Ventures is said to be aiming at investing about $100 million a year. Any portion of that for regenerative medicine is more than welcome.
While traditional VC money remains reticent to back RM in any signifant way, Google's move confirms a trend we've been seeing and talking about at the Cell Therapy Group for the past 12 months or so. The multinational lifescience, biopharmaceutical, and healthcare companies along with strategic investors all now have regenerative medicine on their radar. They are all quietly and not-so quietly developing internal and external regenerative medicine strategies.
Please join us in welcoming regenerative medicine to the radar screen. It's bound to be an exciting ride ahead.