Google Ventures wants to save the world, one startup at a time

Excited about the future of life sciences: Google Venture Pres.
Excited about the future of life sciences: Google Venture Pres.   

Google Ventures has quietly become one of the most active venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, thanks to big bets on Uber, Nest and 23andMe.

But the venture capital investment arm of Google prefers to fly well below the radar, focusing their attention and money on startups it hopes will literally change the world.

The firm operates independent from Google, but its unique relationship with the search giant means it can easily tap into its massive brain-trust of world-class engineers and scientists.

Since its launch in 2009, it has invested in more than 300 startups with the majority – approximately 36 percent - invested into health care firms, including Flatiron Health, One Medical Group and Foundation Medicine. With two billion dollars currently under management, Google Ventures provides seed, venture, and growth stage funding.

Google Ventures Headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Google
Google Ventures Headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Bill Maris, president and managing partner of Google Ventures, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" Wednesday more about the VC firm's investment mission to help entrepreneurs improve the world by working on problems such as cancer treatment, urban transportation, and energy use.

"First, I care about the founders. (Larry Page and Sergey Brin). What's their vision? What are their values? How big of a company do they want to build? How do they want to change the world.? Secondly, how is this going to effect the world? Is it going to help people? Is it going to make the world a little bit better place? If the answer to those two things is 'yes,' you probably have something interesting."

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Ultimately, Maris believes the future of life sciences is "under-appreciated" and ripe for opportunity.

"We are trying to do what scientists, physicians and researchers have done for many years," Maris said. "To try and find ways to prevent and cure disease so we can hopefully live longer, more vigorous lives. "

And the best way, according to Maris, is to match the power of technology and the resources of venture capital together with a dash of good-old fashioned ingenuity .

"If you think of what smartphones can do and what happened to computers between 1970 and today has been interesting and amazing," Maris said, "Then if you look at the life sciences and what the next fifteen years hold, you haven't seen anything yet."