About nine months ago, Google co-founder sergey brin and Johnson & Johnson CEO alex gorsky appeared in a silicon valley startup called Verb Surgical. They challenge each other, using robotic arms to put sutures into soft synthetic tissues.
The robot, created by GuGe and J&J engineers, is still a prototype and will not be available for a few years. The technology is still limited to the outside world, but employees and some surgeons have tried it.
Google parent Alphabet on health care has large bets, including help treat Parkinson’s disease diabetes and tool technology, but its Verb surgery robot business investment is likely to be by far the largest.
Verb aims to bring better, cheaper surgical robots into the market by 2020, as well as software tools that can capture insights during surgery.
This is a huge potential market.
The operation is expected to reach more than $12 billion by 2025, including the largest companies in these areas, including Johnson & Johnson, medtronic and intuit. Verb thinks this is a conservative estimate, and it can generate billions of dollars based on the current market size.
This could make Verb a substantial payday for Alphabet and Johnson&Johnson.
How does Verily work with Verb?
The relationship between letters and verbs is complex.
In fact, formerly known as GuGe life sciences, Alphabet’s main health technology business. In its financial statements, Verily is involved in Alphabet’s “other bets”, including a series of other long-term bets such as Waymo (self-driving cars) and GV (early venture capital).
At this stage, Verily is doing a lot of things. It has established partnerships with traditional life sciences companies such as J&J, Dexcom and Sanofi; Making equity investments; Spin-off companies; Make future projects in-house; And run or co-manage research projects.
Verily doesn’t share much of the financial terms of its life science cooperation, and they seem to be very different, but in 2016 Brin told Google employees at an internal conference that Verily was already profitable.
CNBC has learned some business details about Verily and Verb Surgical, providing new clues about how Verily works and how it benefits the parent company.
Verb Surgical emerged from stealth in 2016, but has had little to say about it since. It is an independent company founded by Verily and J&J, the first independent company.
This is different from the way Verily interacts with health and biotech startups, in which small investments are made and space is available on campus.
The verb has an investment of about $500 million, with several sources saying that Alphabet and J&J are major (but not limited to) equity holders.
If successful, the source said that j&j could choose to buy shares in Alphabet, but the terms of the buyout were unclear.
According to the Linkedin search, the company now has more than 200 employees, and are continuing to develop a set of software tools to match the robot technology. About 50 developers from Google have took part in the work.
This arrangement highlighted the long-term financial advantage outside of another benefit: employee retention.
Interested in affect healthcare engineers can work a few years on the related project, but still employed by Alphabet. Verb to engineers pay the alphabet. If like this project engineer, they can apply for to be Verb full-time employment.
Now to the Verb of letters engineers from project Loon, Google’s project involves the use of balloon spread of Internet access, YouTube, Google Apps, Google Fiber and so on.
The real software manager Tom stannis is one example. In serious after the bike accident, and he began to use the Google AdWords team to Verily. In the process of treatment, the doctor found a lump in his kidneys, found that cancer.
He clearly recall when the surgeon told him they will use the robot arm when removing tumors.
“I think it will be an automatic robot and I placed in the room, rather than a surgeon more precise reality,” he said.
Digital operation platform
Verb and Verily the cooperation between the two companies in today’s market on the most famous of surgery robot has advantages: Intuitive leonardo Da Vinci.
The device is far from perfect. It is large and bulky and not cheap. Fourth generation models catalog price is only $2 million, to make it is beyond the scope of developing country hospital.
Scott, chief executive of Verb Huennekens said in an interview: “there are nearly 8 billion people on the earth, there are 5 billion people unable to undergo surgery.
But the Verb and its partners have ambitious plans more than hardware.
Huennekens referred to as “digital operation platform, is part of robot”.
He thinks the Verb has the competitive advantage, because it collects experts from various disciplines, including optics, hardware and machine learning. At present, the equipment is the animal experiment was carried out, and will eventually ask for regulatory approval.
“We want to create great things, but I know we have high expectations,” he said.