GV founder Bill Maris is venturing out on his own with an ode to Star Trek to source investments in frontier technology.
By Baz Hiralal
Bill Maris, the founder and first CEO of Alphabet Inc.’s GV, launched venture capital fund Section 32 with $150 million. When he left the unit formerly known as Google Ventures, Maris reportedly planned to raise $100 million as recently as March and target investments in healthcare and biotech. More recently, he told TechCrunch, that “certainly healthcare and biotech are areas that I care a lot about, but I’m interested in technologies in every field.” Maris continued:
In fact, biotech and healthcare have gotten to be a bit too trendy of a space lately, and I am leaning back a bit while that trend plays out.
As for the fund’s funds, Recode reported in December that people who saw a fundraising deck said the target was $230 million but Maris said he scrapped the idea a few days later. By March it was reported that he would raise $100 million but hit $150 million after “strong interest,” he told TC.
GV operates with independence from Alphabet and with Maris’ lead, it invested in companies such as Uber, Nest, Slack and, illustrating his life sciences fondness, put $130 million in Flatiron Health, a cancer genomics oncology database. He created Google’s Calico project, a multi-billon-dollar company focused on the study of the genetic basis of aging.
Maris, who is interested in anti-aging and artificial intelligence, has a degree in neuroscience from Middlebury College. His LinkedIn profile redirects to Wikipedia, which says Maris began his career as a biotechnology and healthcare portfolio manager for Swedish investment firm Investor AB, where he and 23andMe founder Anne Wojiciki shared an office. The page notes Section 32 focuses on frontier technology (and that he is a practicing magician).
In an ode to that investing freedom, Maris is said to have named the new fund in a reference to Star Trek. For the non-Trekkie readers, Fandom explains that Article 14, Section 31 of the Starfleet Charter made allowances for bending Starfleet regulations in times of extraordinary threat. The section was cited as the foundation for Section 31, the website informs, to create an officially-nonexistent and autonomous clandestine organization which claimed to protect the security interests of United Earth and, later, the United Federation of Planets.
That may help explain Maris’ move to not be restricted in his investments by what has become trendy, operating outside of the norm.