Ex-Googler Maris Adds Partner From Foundation Medicine

(Bloomberg) -- Ex-Google Ventures head Bill Maris is deepening his firm’s health-care expertise, hiring Foundation Medicine Inc. Chairman Michael Pellini to join him at Section 32.

The addition of Pellini as a managing partner means the San Diego-based firm launched earlier this year can increase its investing pace and tap his health-care experience as an executive at Foundation, a genomic diagnostics company; cancer testing firm Clarient Inc.; and the company now known as PLUS Diagnostics.

“I like technology, but I’m not enamored with it,” Pellini said. “I’m enamored with figuring out how to fit it into routine clinical practice.”

Pellini’s addition is surprising given Maris’s background in health investing and his previously stated commitments to back a range of technologies and hire a female partner.

Although Maris acknowledged the industry has a power imbalance -- 93 percent of venture capitalists with the ability to invest are men -- he said quotas are a poor method to achieve parity.

Maris said he’d spoken to more than 100 potential candidates before selecting Pellini, who he has known since 2011 when Google Ventures first saw a funding pitch from Foundation. When a mutual friend pointed out the two lived about 30 minutes from each other in southern California, they began talking about working together at Section 32, Pellini said.

Maris, who founded and ran Alphabet Inc.’s venture arm GV until leaving last year to launch his own firm, said he has backed 17 startups so far and still has ample cash left in the fund, which he said closed at $160 million.

One of those startups is undisclosed. Of the 16 companies Section 32 lists as having backed, all but one are led by men, according to information on each of their websites and elsewhere online. Arsanis Inc., a company developing treatments for infections, is run by Rene Russo.

The others include digital currency startup Coinbase; food company Northern Quinoa Production Corp., health startup Auris Surgical Robotics; and Embark, which does DNA testing of dogs.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.