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Verily, Alphabet's medical business, is profitable, Sergey Brin tells Googlers

The unit once called Google Life Sciences is making money on a "cash basis."

Verily | YouTube

Publicly, Alphabet has said very little about its assortment of companies not named Google.

But internally, Alphabet is a little more forthcoming.

As we reported earlier, Nest CEO Tony Fadell appeared before Google’s all-hands meeting two weeks ago to address recent criticism of his company. During that meeting, Google co-founder and Alphabet exec Sergey Brin also defended another company under the holding conglomerate: Verily, the medical tech unit previously called Google Life Sciences.

Lumped together, Alphabet’s moonshots aren’t making money yet — but Verily is, Brin said.

Verily was the target of a scathing article — in Stat, a medical publication from the Boston Globe — scrutinizing its CEO, Andy Conrad. Several former employees told Stat that Verily suffered a talent exodus due to “derisive and impulsive” leadership by Conrad.

Here’s what Brin said in response at Google’s TGIF meeting:

I have seen a smattering of articles. And, you know, it’s actually sad to see sometimes where it appeared that … former employees or soon-to-be former employees talked to the press. But, anyhow, I can tell you what’s going on with these companies, fortunately. So in Verily’s case, despite a handful of examples, their attrition rate is below Google’s and Alphabet’s as a whole. And also, there are articles that have generally said we are blowing a lot of money and so forth. It’s true that, you know, as whole our Other Bets are not yet profitable, but some of them are, including Verily on a cash basis and increasingly so. So we’re pretty excited about these efforts.

Verily makes money through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies — such as Novartis, which is licensing and planning to sell Verily’s smart contact lens — and medical institutions. It is one of three units contributing to the Other Bets total revenue ($448 million) in 2015, along with Google Fiber and Nest.

As we reported earlier, Nest likely brought in around $340 million of that and Fiber pulled close to $100 million, meaning that Verily’s sales were somewhere around $10 million. During the year, all the moonshot units combined reported operating losses of $3.6 billion.

Note Brin’s stipulation that Verily’s profit comes on a “cash basis.” That probably means that it’s not making profit on the normal basis, meaning when you take into account total sales minus total costs. But “cash positive” suggests they’re booking sales faster than they’re spending money, which is a positive sign. Companies normally report financials accounting for all costs. And that’s how Alphabet will next week, when it shares first-quarter results for Google and the Other Bets — although we almost certainly won’t see figures on Verily’s profitability.

We reached out to Alphabet and Verily reps for more clarity, but didn’t get any.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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