Sept. 18--MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Google (GOOG) is spinning off a new company that will focus on health and diseases associated with aging, CEO Larry Page announced Wednesday.
The new company, to be called Calico, will be led by Art Levinson, the former CEO of Genentech, who will be chief executive and a "founding investor" in the new enterprise, Page said.
"Art and I are excited about tackling aging and illness. These issues affect us all," Page wrote in a post on his Google+ account Wednesday. Page himself has
wrestled with physical problems affecting his voice, although he did not mention that in his posting.
In a formal announcement, Page added, "With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."
The Google CEO did not offer many more details about the project, but he said Levinson will continue to serve as chairman of Genentech and Apple (AAPL).
Levinson wrote in a separate post that the new company will take "a longterm view on aging and illness" and look at whether there are direct links "between certain diseases and the aging process," among other things.
"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... " Levinson added.
Page also acknowledged that the health field is far different from Google's primary business of Internet advertising.
"OK ... so you're probably thinking, 'Wow!' that's a lot different from what Google does today. And you're right," he wrote.
But he went on to say that Google has long been known for investing in so-called "moonshot" projects such as its driverless car or the wearable computer known as Glass.
"So don't be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet business," he wrote. "And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business."
Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022; follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey.