Google announced yesterday that it’s backing a new health-focused company called Calico. Like many of the tech giant’s initiatives, it’s a moonshot project, tasked with extending human life by combating things like aging and disease.
To make things even more interesting, current Apple chairman Arthur D. Levinson has been named CEO of the newly-founded venture. He’ll oversee the entire operation, and will apparently be reporting directly to Google’s Larry Page…
That Levinson is heading up such a project is no surprise. His resume is chock-full with health-related positions—he was Genentech‘s CEO for 15 years, and is a director for Hoffmann-La Roche, a Swiss pharmaceutical and diagnostics firm.
But it is kind of odd that he’ll essentially be working for Google, considering his high-ranking position at Apple. Aren’t the two companies major competitors? Wouldn’t this be a conflict of interest? Not necessarily. Tim Cook’s cool with it.
From Google’s press release:
“Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, said: “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.”
I’d have to agree with Tim here. Regardless of what you think about the company, you have to admit Google’s really good at making the impossible seem possible. Just look at its driverless cars, or its crazy Internet-slinging balloon program.
Unlike those projects, though, which are run out of the company’s experimental laboratory called Google X, Calico will be run as a separate company. It’s to be headquartered in the Bay Area, and will start with a significant amount of funding.
What do you think, is this a conflict of interest for Levinson?