Google Ventures Ex-Boss Raising $230 Million to Start Healthcare Venture Capital Fund

Published: Dec 06, 2016

Google Ventures' Ex-Boss Raising $230 Million to Start Healthcare Venture Capital Fund December 6, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Only about four months after leaving Google Ventures, now GV, co-founder and chief executive officer Bill Maris is reportedly well on his way to raising $230 million for a new health care venture fund.

In September, it was rumored that Maris was trying to raise between $350 million and $500 million to develop a healthcare-related venture capital fund. He had left GV after Google reorganized its companies under the Alphabet umbrella.

Maris founded Google Venture in 2009 and had some very successful investments, including Uber, Net Labs and Jet.com. As of February 2016, it had $2.4 billion in managed assets and over 300 investments. With numerous successes to its credit, it also missed a few big ones, choosing to pass on Airbnb and SnapChat. On the other hand, it chose to pass on Theranos.

“We looked at it a couple times, but there was so much hand-waving—like, Look over here!—that we couldn’t figure it out,” Maris told Business Insider in October 2015. “So, we just had someone from our life-science investment team go into Walgreens and take the test. And it wasn’t that difficult for anyone to determine that things may not be what they seem here.”

Although little is known about Maris’ venture, it apparently will be called Section 32. This is a very esoteric Star Trek reference, of which Maris is a fan. Section 31 was a black-ops, highly secret intelligence division in the Star Trek universe. Whether that has any significance regarding the fund’s intentions or it’s just a symptom of Maris being a self-identified Trekkie remains to be seen.

Otherwise, besides the fact that the funding has been downgraded to $230 million, the only thing really known about Section 32 is that instead of being located in Silicon Valley, it will be in San Diego.

When running GV, Maris liked healthcare and life science-related ventures. Those included joining a syndicate for Forty Seven’s $75 million Series A financing, investing in Arcus Biosciences, and Armo BioSciences.

“I’m really passionate about the life sciences work that we’ve done,” Maris said in an interview with Recode in August. “I love that team and they’re incredibly talented. They’re doing things that affect patients at the end of the day. That’s where I spent a lot of my time lately.”

There is some speculation that he’ll focus on aging-related diseases and cancers. Maris has a degree in neuroscience from Middlebury College and began his career as a biotechnology and healthcare portfolio manager for Investor AB. He also founded Calico, a Google/Alphabet company whose focus is on the genetics of aging.

When he left GV, Maris claimed it was to spend time with his family. Around the same time, however, a number of high-level Google executives left the company when restructuring was made under Alphabet. Those included Nest’s Tony Fadell, Google Fiber’s Craig Barratt, Project Wing’s Dave Vos, and Chris Urmson, who helped found Google’s self-driving car project.

When Google was reorganized with Alphabet as the parent company, GV fell into the “other bets” category. These companies, before, weren’t broken out in Google’s financials, but they are now. CNBC hints that this might be related to the high-profile departures, because there would be more pressure to show results. Other divisions that fell in to this category included autonomous cars, Nest, and Calico.

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