May 22, 2007 2:52 PM PDT

Google invests $3.9 million in biotech start-up

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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3 comments

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can you say, "nepotism?"
nm
Posted by cmk_78212 (9 comments )
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free pass
Google founders will get free pass for almost all the things they do now, coz their company is in hip.
Only till the advertisement bubble bursts.
Posted by YankeePoodle (785 comments )
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"She founded." Did you mean "He founded"
Seriously though, it's good that Google is putting its money into
"non-evil" enterprises. The future is in biotech, and the faster we
get there, the faster we'll all be experiencing a more disease-free
lifestyle.

And as for the claims of "nepotism" (which to paraphrase Inigo
Montoya, I don't think means what you think it means), it's simply
that Sergey had inside knowledge of a good thing...
Posted by dotmike (154 comments )
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