San Francisco: Google Inc., owner of the most popular Internet search engine, invested about $3.9 million (Rs15.9 crore) in 23andMe Inc., a biotechnology company started by the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Google will have a minority interest in 23andMe, whose name comes from the 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human genome. The company is developing ways for consumers to understand their genetic information, Google said in a regulatory filing .
Anne Wojcicki, 33, Brin’s wife, and Linda Avey, a sales executive in the biotechnology industry, founded 23andMe last year. The company, which is also based in Google’s hometown of Mountain View, California, wants to use web-based applications and DNA analysis software to help people investigate their genes, ancestry and inherited traits, according to its website.
The investment will help “enable search in new areas” and give people “new ways to help them make sense of their genetic information”, said Google spokesman Jon Murchinson. “It furthers our mission of organizing the world’s information.”
Google’s audit committee approved the deal. The committee was advised by independent counsel and received a report from an outside adviser about the value of 23andMe, Google said.
Brin, who started Google with co-founder Larry Page at Stanford University, ranked 26th on Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires in March with a net worth of $16.6 billion. The San Jose Mercury News reported less than a week ago that Brin and Wojcicki wed this month. Brin, 33, had previously lent 23andMe $2.6 million, which the company repaid as part of the investment.
Shares of Google are up 3.3% this year.
Venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates and Mohr Davidow Ventures, and biotech firm Genentech Inc. also invested in 23andMe, Google said. Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson is a Google board member.
Luke Timmerman contributed to this story.