Google said today it has created a new company called Calico to make improvements in human health and well-being. Art Levinson, chairman of Apple's board and former CEO of Genentech, will be Calico's CEO. "Illness and aging affect all our families," Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement. "With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."
"Art is one of the crazy ones."
It's unclear what Calico will do. Google said nothing about the types of products and projects the company would pursue. Levinson will remain chairman of the boards of both Apple and Genentech. "For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn't have to be this way."
The announcement marked an unusual public moment of collaboration for Google and Apple, which once were close but have drifted apart as both have relentlessly pursued the mobile computing market.
In an interview about the new company with Time, Page suggests that even curing cancer won't go as far as he would like to see Calico go. "Are people really focused on the right things?" he said. "One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you'd add about three years to people's average life expectancy. We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that'll totally change the world. But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it's very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it's not as big an advance as you might think."