Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is reportedly joining Russian-Israeli businessman Yuri Milner to fund a start-up that aims to prevent the effects of aging and potentially make people live forever.
The start-up that Bezos is investing in is called Alto Labs. It is out of the United States and United Kingdom and has already secured $270 million in funding.
What is Alto Labs?
Alto Labs has hired several prominent scientists, including Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a prominent scientist who works with cells and Dr. Steve Horvath, who focuses on studying aging in animals and humans. Additionally, Dr. Peter Walter, an expert in how memory works, and Dr. Wolf Reik, who has worked in cell reprogramming, are also joining.
They also hired Manuel Serrano, who said that he will make as much as 10 times their previous job.
The start-up also has prominent scientists in other parts of its company. Dr. Jennifer Doudna, a Nobel Prize winner, will serve on the advisory board. Richard Klausner is the CEO and he formerly served as head of the National Cancer Institute.
Long Term Goals
Bezos has plenty of money to invest, with a net worth of $200 billion, which is good because Serrano believes that producing revenue is a long-term goal, but for the time Alto Labs is focused on developing the right technology. Many start-ups function this way.
Alto Labs will start with experimenting on animals. The first few trials may kill some animals in the process, but the aim is to find a way to reconfigure genetics that prevents the animals from dying. The reason the company is starting on animals is that there are so many variables because of how the system changes cells, so it could prove dangerous initially.
Greater Plans for Jeff Bezos
It appears that this initiative is part of Bezos’s larger career plan after stepping down from CEO of Amazon. When Bezos resigned in July, he said that he would focus more on philanthropic efforts. Though Alto Labs is a company with the long-term goal of being profitable, many would consider preventing death as a philanthropic effort. This is actually not Bezos’s first investment into anti-aging technology. Bezos invested in another company called “Unity Technologies”, with similar aims as Alto Labs.
The MIT’s Technology Review noted Bezos’s age of 57 and said that he might be feeling a midlife crisis, and that might have fueled his interest in the company. Additionally, they noted that rumors preceded this investment that Bezos had a particular interest in anti-aging. Bezos even quoted prominent scholar Richard Dawkins in his final letter as CEO, where he raised the importance of preventing death.
Bezos’s other main initiative that has made news is his space company, Blue Origin. He showed his commitment to it by risking his life to go into a space capsule launched by Blue Origin. Bezos’s investment in Blue Origin caused other billionaires to pursue space exploration, so it is possible that Bezos’s interest in anti-aging may attract other investors’ interest.
This latest investment from Bezos raises a lot of intrigue, it remains to be seen what will actually come of it.