Silver Lake Places A Big Bet On Life Sciences With $1B Investment In Verily

Verily, the life science arm of Alphabet, has raised $1 billion in a mega-round led by Silver Lake Partners. The private equity giant took a stake in Verily as part of the funding, according to the company.

Other new investors in the round include Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and other unnamed global investment management firms, according to a press release issued Thursday afternoon by Verily.

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Also as part of the financing, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat and Egon Durban, managing partner and managing director of Silver Lake, will join Verily’s operating board.

The funding brings South San Francisco-based Verily’s total raised to $1.8 billion, according to its Crunchbase profile. Its last raise was in January 2017 when Singapore’s Temasek put $800 million in the company formerly known as Google Life.

In the release, Verily CEO Andrew Conrad said the money will be used to “support growth in key strategic areas, including investments in strategic partnerships, global business development opportunities, and potential acquisitions.” The company declined to provide further details.

Verily is “creating the building blocks for broadly useful health platforms, starting with targeted efforts in diseases that affect large populations such as diabetes,” according to Carolyn Wang, head of communications for the firm. Among its initiatives is the launch of Onduo, a joint venture with Sanofi that offers a virtual care platform with novel technology for people with Type 2 diabetes, according to Wang. Verily also has been collaborating with Dexcom to develop the world’s smallest continuous glucose meter for people with diabetes.

Besides diabetes, the 700-person company is focused on addressing a variety of conditions such as deteriorating vision, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. It also is working on disease detection. It recently announced it would have to halt work on its glucose monitoring, smart contact lens project due to difficulty in gathering accurate results from human tears.

The life science sector is not for the faint of heart, or for those who lack patience, due to its long cycles and risks for failure. But clearly, investors are willing to place bets in the sector. In December, Jason Rowley and I wrote about how Moderna Therapeutics’ IPO was expected to start trading in what is being touted as one the largest U.S. biotech IPOs ever.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Note: This article was updated post-publication to include information provided directly from Verily.

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