The search has been underway for months, according to several people familiar with the search process. Artificial intelligence head Jeff Dean has been deeply involved in the process and personally interviewing candidates, the people said. Some of the candidates have included leaders in health consulting, hospital management and insurance. The position would report to Dean, but would also work closely with Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Feinberg’s job will be figuring out how to organize Google’s fragmented health initiatives, which overlap among many different business groups.
Among the groups interested in health care are Google’s core search team, its cloud business, the Google Brain artificial intelligence team (one of several groups at Alphabet working on AI), the Nest home automation group and the Google Fit wearables team.
One particular area of interest is building out a health team within Nest to help manage users’ health at home, as well as to monitor seniors who are choosing to live independently. Nest had been an independent company under Google holding company Alphabet, but was absorbed back into the Google Home team earlier this year.
It’s not known how Feinberg will work with other Alphabet companies that are already doing work in health care, including Verily, its life sciences research and development group; and DeepMind, another group focused on artificial intelligence. This particular role is more focused on coordinating across the various teams at Google proper, the people said. But the job could be complicated by the number of powerful executives at the company who have a strong interest in health care, including Alphabet President and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, former CEO Eric Schmidt, and Verily boss Andy Conrad.
The company recently hosted a two-day conference for employees working in health at Google, as well as its Alphabet subsidiaries.
Google is just one of the technology companies that has made moves in health in recent years. Apple is also making investments in the space, particularly in health hardware, and Amazon is looking into a number of areas, including prescription medicines, medical supplies and employer health. Amazon has also teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan to brainstorm ways to lower health costs and make health care more efficient.
Google did not respond to requests for comment.