Andreessen Horowitz is joining the rush of Silicon Valley investors looking for gold in biotech. The renowned VC shop has rounded up $200 million, poached a professor from Stanford University and given him a brief to ferret out the hottest startups at the intersection of software and biotech.
Google Glass flopped as a consumer product, though the company has had some success selling it to businesses, including some devicemakers.
Google Life Sciences joined the American Heart Association in creating a new $50 million research initiative to find better heart drugs.
AliveCor has been an early winner in the quest for digital consumer health devices. Its FDA-cleared ECG monitor that wirelessly connects to smart devices has been used to record more than 4 million ECGs since it was first green-lighted by the agency in December 2012. Now, the startup is aiming to begin its consumer expansion efforts in earnest with the addition of a new CEO--former Google executive Vic Gundotra.
Johnson & Johnson is shaking up its med tech innovation model. Its sprawling medical device unit had a quarterly operational sales increase of just 1.3% to $6.1 billion when adjusting for divestitures and foreign currency fluctuations. Add a negative currency impact to the equation, and the growth rate was-7.3%.
The search at Apple, Google and other members of the tech elite for new business opportunities is pushing them to recruit from outside of their core fields. And whether the sector being targeted is artificial intelligence, self-driving cars or life sciences, the result is the same: a tug-of-war with incumbents for talent.
Alphabet gained more than 12% in market trading after it reported its first quarterly earnings since it officially became the parent company to search engine unit Google as well as other businesses including Life Sciences, Google X, Nest as well as Access and Energy. That puts the company up a whopping roughly one-quarter for 2015 so far in what has been a rocky stock market in recent months.
Google is good at getting what it wants, as evidenced by its recent deals with device and biotech companies through its fast-growing Life Sciences group. And the tech titan's allure has also attracted some of the industry's top scientists, who left their positions in the research and academic fields to further Google's med tech ambitions.
At a recent Ogilvy CommonHealth marketing summit, Google's national industry director of healthcare, Ryan Olohan, compared the digital disruption in the pharma industry to a large, slow-moving train. He pointed to other industries where brands like Kodak, Blockbuster and Blackberry either stood by watching or moved too late and were, in essence, run over by the digital locomotive that plowed through their sectors. Will the same thing happen in pharma?
The advance of Google and other tech firms into life sciences has given drug developers a new source of partners with complementary skills but also raised an awkward question: Long term, are these companies allies or rivals? For Roche CEO Severin Schwan, the answer is still unclear.