For the super rich in the "life-extension community," it's a small world. Brin, whose company has invested over $1 billion in a "longevity lab" called Calico (short for the California Life Company), is dating Nicole Shanahan, the founder of a patent-management business that will work with some of the National Academy's biotech patents.
According to Friend, Shanahan attended the launch with Brin:
"I'm here with my darling, Sergey," she said, referring to her boyfriend, Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. "And he called me yesterday and said, 'I'm reading this book, "Homo Deus," and it says on page twenty-eight that I'm going to die.' I said, 'It says you, personally?' He said, 'Yes!' " (In the book, the author, Yuval Noah Harari, discusses Google's anti-aging research, and writes that the company "probably won't solve death in time to make Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin immortal.") Brin, sitting a few feet away, gave the crowd a briskly ambiguous nod: Yes, I was singled out for death; no, I'm not actually planning to die.
If all goes well, Brin won't age, either, or not past a certain point. Slowing or stopping that process is the current focus of biochemist Ned David, co-founder of Unity Biotechnology, who is 49 but, according to Friend, looks 30. The scientist's youthfulness is part of his appeal, writes Friend.
Last fall, Unity raised a hundred and sixteen million dollars from such investors as Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel, billionaires eager to stretch our lives, or at least their own, to a span that Thiel has pinpointed as "forever." In a field rife with charlatans, Ned David's Dorian Gray affect has factored into his fund-raising. "One class of investor, like Fidelity, finds my youthful appearance alarming," he said. "Another class — the Silicon Valley type, a Peter Thiel — finds anyone who looks over 40 alarming."
Investing in bio-tech breakthroughs is one way the super rich are trying to stay young and healthy indefinitely. Others in the community are settling for cryogenic freezing, in the hopes that they can be thawed once regenerative science has sufficiently advanced.