Google VC doubles down on Big Data after biotech bets

Google Ventures is boosting its internal expertise in data analytics, a sign that the web giant's VC group wants to deepen its presence in the growing Big Data field. The group, which is financed by Google ($GOOG), has recently brought on Hazem Adam Ghobarah, who previously worked on quantitative research and modeling at Google, The New York Times reported. And Ghobarah has his eyes on opportunities in biology.

"We keep coming back to life sciences" as an investment field, Ghobarah told The Times. "In a given year, you have 200 million pathology slides. If that gets online, it is a Big Data problem."

Google Ventures, of course, has already made a number of bets on companies in the life sciences field that are tackling projects involving enormous amounts of digital data. For instance, the group co-led a $15 million round of venture funding last year in DNAnexus, which provides cloud-based services for storing and analyzing large genomic datasets. The personal genomics company, 23andMe, is also in Google Venture's portfolio. 23andMe, started by a Google co-founder's wife, Anne Wojcicki, has one of the largest collections of genetic data from Parkinson's patients that exist and wants the data to aid researchers studying the disease.

As the article notes, Google and other major players in web products and services such as Yahoo! and Amazon have pioneered many new technologies in the Big Data field out of necessity; their businesses called for managing mammoth amounts of digital data. One example is the open source database software known as Hadoop that enables apps to work on thousands of different computers, according to Wikipedia. The tech has helped Google manage dizzying amounts of data on how consumers use of its products, helping the company offer targeted advertising.

Big Data tech is now playing a role in life sciences, supporting companies that are crunching massive amounts of genomic data to find proverbial needles in the haystack that might help explain a disease. Another Google Ventures-backed company, Foundation Medicine, relies on computer analytics for its business that involves the use of digital data from sequencing cancer DNA to find variants that are driving tumor growth.  

- read the item from The Times

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