Google introduces Calico, a moonshot idea that could actually make life better

by: Nate SwannerSeptember 18, 2013

Larry Page

Today, Google is introducing Calico, which they refer to as a company focussed on “health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.” Heading the new company is Art Levinson, an Apple chairman and former CEO (and current chairman) of Genentech. Levinson will be CEO and a founding investor of Calico, which stands for “California Life Company”, but Levinson notes in his Google+ post that making reference to cats with nine lives is great, too.

Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google, had this to say about Calico:

[quote qtext=”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. 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.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

Levinson went on to add “Larry’s focus on outsized improvements has inspired me, and I’m tremendously excited about what’s next.” Rounding out the triumvirate of support, current Apple CEO Tim Cook added “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.”

In an interview with Time, Page — who famously has vocal cord damage, and is reluctant to give many interviews — was taciturn about Calico’s reach and scope. Like many of Google’s ventures into a new territory, the driving force is a perceived problem, not means to a solution. Google is as committed to the voyage as they are the results, and Calico should be no different. “In some industries, it takes 10 or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real.” Page said. “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.”

There is no laser-focussed goal yet, but Calico is supported by a group of people who have a visceral interest in what’s accomplished. Levinson is dedicated to health, and Page has a very personal reason for seeing this through. Even Cook, who watched a friend and mentor pass away slowly, tipped his hat to Jobs in calling Levinson “one of the crazy ones”.

All Google moonshot ideas have one guiding principle: changing lives. This one may be the best yet.

  • I wonder when they are launching Google socks and Google toothbrush as well. Am pretty excited.

    • David Rutla

      It’s people like you that make the human existence repulsive. Go strap C4 to your back and level a city block.

      • that’s the best you could come up with?

        • David Rutla

          No, but why waste more then 1/1000 of a brain cell on a genetically and mentally inferior exsi

        • David Rutla

          No, but why waste more then 1/1000th on a brain cell on a genetically and mentally inferior existence. Be happy that someone of my stature acknowledged you.

          • get treated soon, send me the bill if needed :)
            No more barking shall be entertained hereon.

  • Alu Zeros

    remove money from the equation, and create a utopia by ideals and values…not an easy task, considering most of the human race is selfish and greedy.

  • Ipeleng Motsatsi


    • Testytester

      Test 2u2

  • YodatheSkoda

    They should team up with the Venus Project

    • Amsakanna

      well said

  • jiejie48