Google goes biotech, invests in 23andMe

Summary:Google said today in an SEC filing that it has invested $3.9 million in 23andMe, a biotech startup that's focused on allowing consumers to search their genome.

Google said today in an SEC filing that it has invested $3.9 million in 23andMe, a biotech startup that's focused on allowing consumers to search their genome.

23andMe just closed its series A round of funding. The startup's funding round included Google, New Enterprise Associates, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Genentech. 23andMe says it is "focused on empowering individuals to access, explore, share and better understand their genetic information, making use of recent advances in DNA analysis technologies and proprietary web-based software tools."

In its filing, Google also noted that Anne Wojcicki is a co-founder of 23andMe and is a member of the board of directors. Wojcicki is married to Sergey Brin, Google’s president of technology and company co-founder.

The search giant also outlined other intertwined relationships beyond Brin and Wojcicki:

Sergey also holds approximately 35 percent of Google’s Class B common stock. Prior to Google’s investment in 23andMe, Sergey provided approximately $2.6 million in interim debt financing to 23andMe, which was repaid as part of this financing transaction. Genentech’s Chief Executive Officer, Arthur Levinson, is also a member of the board of directors of Google. Google’s Audit Committee reviewed and approved this transaction as part of Google’s procedures for entering into transactions with related parties. As part of its decision-making process, the Audit Committee was advised by independent counsel and received and considered a report from an independent advisor as to the valuation of 23andMe.

News.com's Dawn Kawamoto reported that Brin recused himself from any discussions about the investment. Google also noted that it was premature to talk about how the search giant and 23andMe may work together in the future.

For its part, 23andMe is happy to have the dough. In a release, the company said terms of the financing weren't disclosed.

“Achieving this significant funding milestone enables us to move forward with our core mission of connecting people with their genetic information,” said Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe, in a statement. “We are thrilled and honored to have attracted the backing of such a diverse, proven and innovative group of investors.”

The company also said it will launch by the end of the year and will provide more information then.

Topics: Google

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Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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