Google invests $3.9 million in biotech start-up

Search giant one of several investors in 23andMe, which was started by the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Written by Dawn Kawamoto, Contributor
Google has invested $3.9 million in 23andMe, a biotech start-up co-founded by the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday.

With its investment, Google will hold a minority stake in 23andMe, co-founded last year by Anne Wojcicki. The Mountain View, Calif., company focuses on aiding consumers in understanding their genome.

The search giant was one of several investors in a series A, or first round, of funding for the biotech company. Other investors include New Enterprise Associates, Mohr Davidow Ventures and biotech giant Genentech. Terms of the financing deal were not disclosed.

Genentech's chief executive, Arthur Levinson, sits on Google's board and the search giant had its audit committee review the transaction as part of its policy for assessing deals to avoid potential conflicts of interest. The audit committee, which approved the transaction, also received advice from an independent counsel and financial adviser on the valuation of the deal.

Prior to Google's investment, Brin had provided approximately $2.6 million in interim debt financing to 23andMe. He was repaid with proceeds from the series A financing.

Brin recused himself from all discussions regarding the investment, said Google spokesman Jon Murchinson. He also said it was premature to discuss whether Google would eventually partner with 23andMe, but that the investment was strategic to Google's business objectives.

"We made the investment because we think there is value in the work they plan to do in genetics," he said. "Our mission is to organize the world's information, and we think 23andMe developing new ways of helping people make sense of their genetic information will help further our mission."

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