Alphabet’s venture capital arm adds senior healthcare partner

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Alphabet Inc.’s venture capital arm has hired a new senior partner with experience mentoring biotech companies as the company increases its focus on launching and investing in healthcare startups.

In December, GV, formerly Google Ventures, hired Cathy Friedman, a former biotech investment banker, as an executive partner tasked with advising healthcare startups and helping them grow their businesses. She joins senior biotechnology executive Dan Lynch, hired for the same role earlier in 2021. GV also recently hired Scott Biller, a board member of holding company GV Rome Therapeutics Inc., as a partner. part-time executive.

GV, based in Mountain View, Calif., Was formed in 2009 and has been investing in technology and healthcare from the start. The company, which has a total of 32 people on its investment team, has grown its healthcare practice, bringing that investment group to 17, up from seven in the past three years.

GV has added professionals to help it incubate and support early-stage biomedical startups, a strategy that has become more common in biotech venture capital in recent years as companies compete to support new science. more promising.

Ms. Friedman is an independent director on the boards of companies such as Lyell Immunopharma Inc., a developer of cancer drugs that went public in 2021, and Seer Inc., a protein research technology company that went public in 2021, and Seer Inc., a protein research technology company that went public. public in 2020.

Earlier in her career, she spent nearly 24 years with investment bank Morgan Stanley, holding positions such as co-head of the company’s biotechnology practice.

Mr. Lynch was previously Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of biotech firm ImClone Systems Inc. and now serves on the boards of directors of biotechnology companies, including publicly traded SpringWorks Therapeutics Inc..

Venture capital branches often invest in areas of business interest. GV, which manages Alphabet’s $ 8 billion in funds, is not a strategic investor and is free to back Alphabet’s competitors, according to the company. GV, which invests in technology and healthcare from a single pool of capital, receives stipends from Alphabet but has not publicly disclosed details about them, according to the company.

In healthcare, GV sees a wide range of opportunities and has invested $ 1 billion in the healthcare area since the start of 2020, said David Schenkein, who co-leads the healthcare investment team with managing partner Krishna Yeshwant. Dr Schenkein was previously CEO of biotech firm Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc. before joining GV in 2019. A third of the dollars invested by GV since its inception has gone to healthcare, according to the company.

GV-backed healthcare companies include cancer screening company Grail Inc., which was acquired by Illumina Inc. in 2021; primary care services company 1Life Healthcare Inc., better known as One Medical, which went public in 2020; and Flatiron Health, an oncology data platform startup acquired by Roche Holding AG in 2018.

Ms Friedman said part of GV’s appeal is that it only has one funder and can take a long-term approach to investing in startups.

GV incubated Verve Therapeutics Inc., which launched in 2018 and went public in 2021, to develop potential gene-editing cures for coronary heart disease. Verve’s approach comes with risks because it is new, but GV was willing to bet on the long-term potential, said co-founder and CEO Sekar Kathiresan, adding that Verve expects the first clinical trials to be start this year.

“They really got down to the big idea that we came up with,” Dr Kathiresan said. “They want to see the idea come to fruition over time. “

In April 2021, GV partnered with OrbiMed Advisors and ARCH Venture Partners to lead a Series A funding in the new company Treeline Biosciences Inc., a biotechnology company that seeks to discover treatments for cancer using biological, chemical and computer technologies.

Treeline Co-Founder and CEO Josh Bilenker said he wanted to build on Dr Schenkein’s experience in exploiting biotechnology and that as artificial intelligence and computing tools become more and more in addition to being important in biotechnology, it would be valuable to have an investor connected to the resources and experts in these fields.

GV incubated Rome Therapeutics with the help of Rosana Kapeller, a former entrepreneur-in-residence at the company. Rome is using machine learning and other technologies to develop drugs for cancer and autoimmune diseases by analyzing long portions of the genome made up of repeating sequences. GV helped Rome recruit computer scientist Menachem Fromer to lead data science, said Dr Kapeller, who is now CEO of Rome and a member of GV.

“When it’s time to recruit people, we have that brand and it’s really helpful,” Dr. Kapeller said.

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