Bill Maris is pushing ahead with plans to set up a biotech-focused investment fund, according to Bloomberg. The former head of Google Ventures dropped plans to set up a $230 million fund late last year, but is now reportedly set to be the sole investment partner in a $100 million fund.
Maris established himself in the biotech investment scene as founder of Google Ventures, the VC arm of the conglomerate now known as Alphabet that came to see life sciences as a cornerstone of its activities. The ex-Googler looked set to continue his relationship with biotech after leaving Alphabet last year, only to scrap plans to run an independent $230 million fund just before papers to set up the new organization were due to be filed.
Now, Maris has reportedly had another change of heart.
The anonymous source quoted by Bloomberg attributes Maris’ U-turn to the emergence of backers who are happy for him to run the VC shop out of San Diego—where he lives—and without the involvement of other investing partners. While the new report presents investor support for those aspects of the fund as swaying Maris, the original Recode article from December also described a San Diego-based operation with no other prominent partners. At that time, Maris said capital was available for the fund.
Whatever the reason, Section 32, the unchanged, Star Trek-referencing name of the fund, is now said to be back on track. But in the intervening months it has slimmed down, with Maris now expected to pull in $100 million. The fund is tipped to close later this month or early the next.
If the fund goes ahead, Maris will re-enter a field he sounded downbeat about a few months ago. When alerting Recode to his change of plans in December, Maris said “staring down the barrel of doing again exactly what I just did was not inspiring me.” A few days later, Maris told Bloomberg TV "I don’t know that the world needs another venture fund right now," adding that “there might be other ways to have an impact on problems I think are worth tackling."
Maris reportedly considered helming a startup after shelving his plans for Section 32, but now sees his future in VC once again.