tv Bloombergs Studio 1.0 Bloomberg April 9, 2016 10:30am-11:01am EDT
emily: he was the most unlikely candidate for the job. a young entrepreneur living in from on with limited investing experience. larry page tapped him to start a capital fund. one year later, google ventures was born. the investment arm has become one of the most active firms in silicon valley with $2.4 billion to spend and investments in over 300 companies, including cooper, -- including uber nest, and
plaque. joining me today, bill maris, gv ceo. thank you so much for being here. you were hand-picked by larry to start google's venture capital in 2008. at the time, you were a young entrepreneur, no clout in silicon valley to it what were the early years like? bill: hand-picked implies a level of specialness. i was sitting at a shared office space at a desk in corporate development, sitting next to a corporate developer and in turn internorate development who turned out to be kevin's sister as he was developing instagram. at the time, we were trying to figure out what we were trying to do here. i was not picked for my clout or experience. in part, my lack of experience in the venture business led us to develop a unique model. emily: you were going up and down sand hill road, trying to get people to take you
seriously. bill: my career has been a progression of not being taken seriously and volunteering for jobs i was not qualified for. that is the story. at the time, i did go from firm to firm to say, here is what i'm thinking and we are thinking of doing. some took us very seriously and gave great advice and some still do to this day. some literally laughed at the idea. emily: who laughed at you? bill: i will not name names but , they know who they are. probably not laughing anymore. but i understand why they did. i had no experience. google did not have a track record as a venture investor. it seemed out of the ordinary to have someone like me come and say we would start a venture fund. emily: what prepared you for that? where did you grow up? bill: i read novels and washed -- watched "star wars" and "star trek." toy i wasrt any
given, much to my parent's charge and. . chargin if it was electronic, i would disassemble it and try to put it back together. about a 50% success rate. i got really interested in computers and games and imagination and storytelling. all those coalesced into me wanting to be an animator. i thought you could create any kind of world you want to i would draw a lot. i thought it would be an interesting career. emily: you majored in neuroscience. bill: i found the subject matter interesting. i pursued it and graduated and decided i did not want to become a doctor, and i stumbled into a bunch of things. one of which was a startup. eventually here to gv. emily: you managed a biotech portfolio at an investment bank. in 1997, the person sitting next to you is anne wojcicki. bill: this was before google even existed. we were office mates and became
fast friends and were friends ever since. at the time, she told me about some friends in her sister's garage. emily: anne went on to marry sergey brin. the cofounder of google. she is the cofounder of 23 and me. she told you about google. bill: here are these two stanford dropouts starting the company. i had a path i was on and i wanted to see where it would lead. emily: you started a web company in vermont and sold it. bill a lot happened in between. : i slept under my desk and ate a lot of canned foods. payroll with my credit card, and march of 2000 when the market crashed, it was not worth anything to anyone. we had to see it through the period and sold it in 2002 to web.com.
emily: you ended back at google. and sergei were insistent that i go back to california, because that is where the future was. over the course of 19 interviews, they decided ok, bill, we will ask you to start looking into this. there was no checkbook given. what should we do in venture? months thinking about different models and how it might work. of my job was that we hired a recruiting firm to find ahead of google ventures. it was not going to be me. as i interviewed people for the role, i discovered the thing i discovered when i sat next to anne and we talked to people pitching us companies. nobody knows anything. the people i am talking to do not know anything about google.
it does not seem like they have special knowledge about technology companies to try -- about technology companies, so i volunteered. i thought i would like to give it a try. emily: was this an attempt to distance yourself from the google name? bill: people called us gv anyway. it was easiest. awfulyou have a structure, to color google ventures would mislead. it is broader than the. it is not a google service. we tried literally 1000 or so -- we literally brainstormed 1000 or so different names and we thought gv was the most obvious. the same as it was between gv and google before this. we have a separate entity. i am now the ceo of gv. we make our investments in whatever we like.
emily: you had no access to information on startup strategy or details? bill: no, they have a similar access to information that any limited partner would get. as wise financial information etc. -- but i have no end sentence to share details about what a startup is doing, as i would with intel versus google versus facebook. our job is to generate returns and help the company grow. emily: a benchmark, those are kings. those are the firms that entrepreneurs lust after. like you are on sand hill road trying to convince people? impasse or syndrome is a key element of many people's personalities. i am no exception. you're only as good as your next few investments. i think that insecurity comes up a lot.
it never bothered me that people took us seriously or not. i think it is more important if we take ourselves seriously because we are trying to do something that has not been done before. emily: one of the things you are really focused on is trying to extend human life. how much progress have you actually made there? ♪
actually made there? bill: this sounds mad scientist. like i have a garage with bubbling beakers. it is not so much about extending life. it is like if you set the goal, we want to land on the moon, and you start by saying, but we can't land on the moon, you will probably never get there. the idea is more about, can you live vigorous and healthy lives, get more live out of our years and more years out of our lives. emily: in terms of actual progress that you have made him a what have you made? where are you? bill: i do not make progress to we invest in companies that do the work. we are able to develop diagnostics now. the human genome project took 10 years and $4 billion to sequence one genome. you can now do that in an hour on a machine that fits on this table. we can now look at the genome and find places where we see errors.
the diagnostic comes first. the therapies, after that. we are moving to a place where company that we invested in, it is a crisper gene editing technology. that may not mean a lot to a lot agoeople, but live years the idea of that company was hard to fathom -- that it could be a company. things are moving quickly now, i hope so, that we will have treatments for things that seem emily: what is the goal? untreatable is it 200 years? 500? bill: the goal i would put before that, if you look around the world, or even san francisco today, this area of the world, silicon valley is great at innovation, words that are so overused that people get tired of hearing about them. the goal i would set out does not have to do with those words.
it has to do with distribution. the fact that in this country, if you are a white male, your average life expectancy is maybe 77. if you live in western africa, the life expectancy is 45 or 50. for me, the challenge bell are put out is about distribution of our existing technologies -- which we can do today. the seven deadliest diseases, many of those, we could cure right now or treat or prevent. , the fact that we are not making as much an effort to do that, if i told you we could double lifespans in this country by snapping our fingers, you would say we should do that to we could double life span and lots of parts of the world, even in this country, just by distributing what we re: have. emily: there have been 100 attempts to develop an alzheimer's treatment and all of them have failed. a successful treatment could be huge. where do you see the breakthrough happening in
age-related disease? bill: there are people spending their entire careers moving actual molecules and working in labs to develop treatments for something that is untreatable. that will be a win for humanity when that happens. we have an understanding of how alzheimer's develops and how all neurodegenerative conditions come about, that 15 or 20 years ago when i was a neuroscience student, it did not exist and was not in the books. now we have tools to look inside even living brains. it was only 1930 that we had no antibiotics. you get a disease and you die. and suddenly, you get a disease and take a pill and you live and that is kind of a miracle. emily: i want to talk about specific companies, like foundation medicine, working on a personalized cancer treatment. they have been slow to get insurers to cover it and some
say there is still no viable product. what are the chances of them actually finding a cure for cancer? bill: when we invested, they came in to pitch and after the pitch, we looked at each other and thought, is it even possible? will the technology get there? what they are doing now was impossible at the time. -- at the time that they were founding the company and raising money. the progress they have made to date is so remarkable that it is completely underappreciated by a lot of people and maybe even the market. they created a diagnostic to genotype tumors so they could help physicians pick the best treatment modality so we are treating your cancer. if we all live long enough, we will get cancer and we can treat your cancer, not what was the gold standard for the generic form of what we call long cancer -- what we call long cancer --
lung cancer because it happens to be in your lungs. that is a huge step here it will that lead to a cure? they say there is a turf cancer, early detection. so it is a big step. i will tell you there are patients alive who would not be alive but for the foundation medicine test. that is really compelling. in some cases, they did find a cure for cancer. emily: are there any areas of health where you just will not go? where technology has not caught up to the need? bill: no. emily: how do you balance whether something is impossible? but maybe possible? bill: you can't lose money, need to be correct, i need to be right, then that is the wrong business for you. emily: is that the luxury of working at google? bill: no. if we all lose money, we will not have a job anymore to it we go in optimistic there is a cure for cancer, but skeptical of every approach. that is just science. we have bioengineers and
physicians on the team who spend their careers on this kind of thing. we're ok being wrong sometimes or even most of the time. , emily: google gives you as much money as you want. bill: they don't give me -- i would not put it in those terms . we all try to be rational. how much money can we reasonably invest and expect a good return. emily: you do not have to fund raise. it is kind of the luxury. they'll: it's is probably one third of our time, which will be spent raising money, with companies and other things, which is a great benefit for us. emily: you once likened a fund-raising of secret to a bank heist. at the time, it was taken as an unfriendly comment but since then, the market has changed. i wonder if you think the reaction would have been the same if you said it today?
bill: i think it was an entrepreneur unfriendly comment. it was probably not the nice thing to say. if you do not have something nice to say, you probably should not say anything at all but i know the founders and that was a unique situation. i think they learned something from it. the investment did not work out but they were onto something for a short time that burn brightly. at the same time, they were not dealing with sick patients. the kinds of chances we take that entrepreneurs are willing to take in the tech world do not and should not work on the life science side. you have to be a lot more careful. emily: the market is in the middle of a major reset. how do you think this plays out? ♪
emily: the market is in the middle of a major reset. how do you think this plays out? bill: we have to understand what is happening. we tried to avoid investment opportunities that are overheated and tried to work with founders that are making reasonable deals. and find good investors. someone once told me you can pick your investor or you can pick your price. but you can't pick both. it is better to pick your investor in all scenarios because you want them to be , there when things go wrong and they always go wrong.
emily: you invested over at a $3 at a $3 billion valuation. now it is valued at $6.2 billion. someone suggested to me that uber is next in store for us. bill: i am completely biased. but you have a transformational company. when we invested, there were a lot of people that questioned, what are they doing? we pushed all in. it is our largest investment. we have over $300 million invested in the company, which is the size of our entire fund at the time. all along at every stage, people question, is it overpriced, is it overpriced? they are doing something far more remarkable than we thought when we invested. i do not underestimate that team or the people that work there at all. emily: uber did get a little
complicated because google is interested in maps, uber is interested in maps. how are you navigating that relationship? uber,we are investors in so it is our responsibility is to try to help them build big, successful, an important and useful a company as possible. emily: now you compete. bill: we do not compete at we are the investors. tesla and apple, everyone wants to be in cars and maps. travis was in it before it was the hip thing to be in. any time you get companies that are the size of uber and the importance of apple, etc., they will bump into one another. emily: the last time you were on the show, you pledged to hire a woman general partner. that would be your next partner. what progress have you made? bill: we are not hiring a general partner now, but when we do that we need to make a deliberate effort to do it. i wish there were something i
could drop in the water and solve the diversity problem, but there are other elements to it. most boards are made up of white men. most venture teams like ours are made up of white men. we put $5 million into something we had never done before, to invest in other venture funds. we invested in four venture funds that are not our own, funds founded by people who are not white men. who see entrepreneurs that we would not see otherwise. emily: would you be in favor of affirmative action, hiring a woman who checks maybe not all of the boxes that needed to be checked, but check some other boxes? like taking a risk? bill: we do have a female general partner. emily: a huge step. bill: i do not like to point
these things out. i have seen other people in other situations say let me give you the numbers on our team. there is a de-individuation that makes this person so and so are so-and-so, but rather than that they are also a technologist and on burner. emily: you have the power to change things. bill: we are trying to do that. we are looking at ourselves and saying what can we do differently. i had my entire team undergo unconscious bias training. i'm guilty of it. we are all guilty of that. to try and correct those things and start those ways, and, like i said, invest in other funds and try to meet with entrepreneurs that would not come on our radar, necessarily. so yes, we do have the power to change it. many of us have failed. we have done a bad job of it.
which is ok. it is ok to say that. i would like to do better. emily: what is your long-term vision for gv? five years? bill: the first thing that comes to mind is what i said earlier. if we invested in the companies that had the most positive impact for the largest number of patients, that would make me really happy. emily: how about 50 years? bill: i hope i am still around. you know, it is hard to think that far out. anytime i have thought, "where will i be in three or five years," i was so wrong. emily: are you still going to be doing this? bill: i hope i am around to find out it i'm having a ton of fun. it is mostly because of the people that i get to work with. as long as that is the case, the answer is yes. emily: bill maris, gv president and ceo. thank you. ♪
♪ emily: i am emily chang and this is "the best of bloomberg west," where we bring together the best interviews and news highlights from the week. coming up, a bit of financial make-believe. we take that question to the seed investor who spotted some of silicon valley's most celebrated entrepreneurs. plus, piling into renewable energy like never before. defined the theory that lower oil and gas prices would break funding aw