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J&J, Alphabet's Verily form surgical robotics and medical device JV: Verb Surgical

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Earlier this week, we learned the new, rather awkward name of Google Life Sciences--Verily Life Sciences. Now the entity has disclosed another very novel corporate name, this time for a robotic surgery and medical device joint venture with Johnson & Johnson--Verb Surgical--thereby definitively staking out new corporate names starting with the letter "V." The partners also revealed the merest glimmer of information about the management and financing of the new surgical and medical device JV.

The newco Verb was formed as part of a previously disclosed partnership between then-Google Life Sciences and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) to develop new kinds of robotic surgical systems. News of the pairing originally came out in March. The deal is specifically with Ethicon Surgical Care, J&J's surgery business.

In the latest announcement, the partners said that they expect to develop cutting-edge surgical robotics, as well as "best-in-class medical device technology for operating room professionals." The ultimate stated goal is to offer surgeons and hospitals the means to improve patient outcomes, minimally invasive surgical options and hospital efficiency.

"We believe Verb Surgical has the potential to change the future of surgery, not just robotic surgery," said Gary Pruden, worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, in a statement. "The team has already made meaningful progress on the robotics platform, which is being developed for application across a host of surgical specialties."

Scott Huennekens

The financial details of the deal have remained undisclosed thus far, but the partners did divulge that Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson Innovation-JJDC, and Verily are all investing in Verb and that the JV will be based in Mountain View, CA. That's also where Google's recently created parent company Alphabet ($GOOG) is headquartered.

The new surgical and medical device-focused JV will be led by new President and CEO Scott Huennekens, who led catheter-based imaging company Volcano through a 2006 IPO and grew the company to about $400 million in annual sales and, eventually, took it into a $1.2 billion acquisition by Royal Philips ($PHG) that closed in March.

"By maximizing the distinct capabilities of these two market-leading companies, we aim to develop novel technologies and solutions to help improve the standard of care around the world," said Huennekens. "Our name speaks for itself. We are a company dedicated to action and to making a difference in people's lives, in partnership with surgeons globally."

In April, Huennekens was snapped up as chairman of EndoChoice ($GI). The gastrointestinal endoscopy player brought in about $95 million in proceeds from a June IPO but has since traded down from its $15 IPO share price to less than $9. EndoChoice traded up 6% on early reaction to the Verb news of Huennekens high-profile move; he remains listed among the company's board members.

The Verb board composition remains undisclosed, but directors will be drawn from Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Verily and Google.

- here is the announcement

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