Health tech founder ousted over alleged ‘acts of intimidation, abuse, and mistrust’: some reflections (Soapbox)

And we thought they were par for the course. Those of us who have worked for company founders, CEOs, and senior execs have learned that some interesting personalities come with the territory, especially in entrepreneurial companies. This Editor has worked for at least one diagnosed ADHD, a bipolar ADHD, another with anger management/impulse control issues, and a gentleman who is now spending a few years in a Federal penitentiary for securities fraud. One of her most memorable CEOs made the cover of Fortune with the caption, “Is this America’s Toughest Boss?” and no, his name was not Donald Trump. (Clue: he was chairman of what was for a time the world’s largest airline conglomerate.)

Of late, there’s been the behavioral quirks of their founders leading to disastrous problems at Uber, Theranos, and Zenefits. It often seems that the more hype, the more sunshine, daisies, puppy dogs, mission, and ‘fab culture’ are on the website, the worse the dysfunctional reality and mistreatment of the troops.

Perhaps no longer. Monday’s very public firing by his board of Ron Gutman, CEO of HealthTap, a digital health all-over-the-map company that now has settled into a members-only patient-doctor mobile health platform, over non-financial behavior may be a first. Mr. Gutman was given the heave-ho by his board after, notably, months of effort. Recode cited a termination letter to him that he “committed acts of intimidation, abuse, and mistrust, and that [he] repeatedly mistreated, threatened, harassed and verbally abused employees.” The coup de grâce: “The toxicity you introduced into the workplace ends now.”

An all-hands memo to employees was more restrained:

After receiving concerning reports by employees about Ron’s conduct as CEO, the Board of Directors hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into these allegations. What we learned left us with no choice but to make this change, and we did so after taking the necessary steps from a corporate governance perspective.

The replacing CEO is Bill Gossman, a serial founder and a partner in one of the investors, Mohr Davidow Ventures.

Mr. Gutman has denied it all, stating that he did not abuse employees and that the VCs are in violation of their duties. (FYI, not a whiff here of #MeToo antics.)

Funded to the tune of $38 million by Khosla Ventures, Mayfield Fund, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, but without fresh funding in five years, the public face of both Mr. Gutman and HealthTap (of which he is the very public face, appearing all over their website still) is one with a very large smile. Mr. Gutman gained some fame from his TED talk and book on the power of smiling. One wonders how the smile is doing today. A frown turned upside down. TechCrunch, Mobihealthnews

Health tech arrivals (Philips, Roche, VRI, PushDoctor)…and departures (Pact, Jawbone)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Looney-Tunes-Were-in-the-Money.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]This popular vacation week has been filled with ‘money under the wire’ news of acquisitions, investments…and one high-profile owner shuttering a pioneering activity app.

Acquisitions:

Philips Healthcare added London-based pregnancy app developer Health & Parenting for an undisclosed sum. Its most popular app is Pregnancy + (and ++), with 12 million downloads via the Apple Store and Google Play, but others are Baby + for all things baby-rearing, and Baby Name Genius to Find That Ideal Name. It will fold into and diversify Philips’ existing uGrow digital parenting platform which includes the Avent smart baby monitor and smart ear thermometer and leverages the open infrastructure of Philips’ Health Suite Digital Platform. One wonders at the flood of data flowing from these apps to these devices and what Philips will do with all these points. Release, MedCityNews

Roche acquired Austrian partner mySugr, a management tool that promises to ‘make diabetes suck less’. Last year they added Roche’s Accu-Chek Connect blood glucose monitor to its chosen device connect and sync list. mySugr features an app for users to log their meals, exercise, glucose levels, and mood. It also captures pictures of user snacks and unleashes “a diabetes monster” avatar when the food choices are poor based on their glucose levels. Terms were not disclosed. MedCityNews

Telecare/monitoring company VRI quietly acquired Healthcom from Woodbridge International. Healthcom’s primary area is care transition management using medical alerts, telehealth, and medication management for payers, government agencies and care partners. Originally positioned as a partnership June 30 on VRI’s website, Globe Newswire confirmed the sale a week later. Terms (again) were not disclosed.

Mobihealthnews rounded up 24 major acquisitions, including GreatCall (by GTCR) and Best Doctors (Teladoc)–all by June 30!

Investments:

Manchester’s PushDoctor telemedicine app raised $26.1 million in Series B financing from Accelerated Digital Ventures and Draper Esprit plus Oxford Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, and Seventure Partners. This added to their $10.1 million Series A raise in January 2016. PushDoctor connects UK patients with NHS-registered GPs for virtual visits costing only £20. Unlike US-based tele-docs, Push Doctor issues prescriptions, makes doctor-led referrals to other health providers and specialists, and helps manage repeat prescriptions. Their founder also has an eye on managing long-term conditions, short-term illnesses, fitness, and nutrition. Their major UK competitors are Babylon Health (which recently raised £50 million for its triage app), Ada Health, and Your.MD. Crunchbase, TechCrunch, Mobihealthnews

And shutterings:

Pioneering fitness incentive app Pact (founded 2011) announced its closing by end of August. Originally a ‘get thee to the gym’ app, it branched out into healthy food (eat more vegetables!) and tracking meals with MyFitnessPal. Pact never truly emerged from seed funding. A rare stumble by Khosla Ventures, which led a 2014 bag-of-skittles round of $1.5 million. Mobihealthnews, Crunchbase

Jawbone closed out the week by liquidating and transubstantiating into Jawbone Health Hub. More on this here

Was 2016 a great or off year for digital health funding, M&A, IPOs? (updated)

It depends on the study you read and how jaundiced your view is. If you believe the StartUp Health Insights 2016 ‘Health Moonshots’ report, 2016 digital health funding has hit a zenith of $8.18 bn (up 38 percent from 2015), with 500 companies enjoying funding from over 900 individual investors. Yet over at fellow funder Rock Health, the forecast is far more circumspect. They tracked only half the funding–$4.2 bn in funding–with 296 deals and 451 investors, down from the $4.6 bn over 276 deals in 2015.

There are significant differences in methodology. Rock Health tracks deals only over $2 million in value, while StartUp Health seems to have no minimum or maximum; the latter includes early stage deals at a lower value (their cross-section of ~$1 million deals has 15). StartUp Health gathers in international deals at all levels (pages 11-12),  whereas Rock Health only includes US-funded ventures. Another observation is that StartUp Health defines ‘digital health’ differently than Rock Health, most notably in ‘patient/consumer experience’, ‘wellness’ and ‘personalized health’. This can be seen by comparing their top 10 categories and total funding: (more…)

Another Khosla pronunciamento: self-promoting but myopically correct?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] The Gimlet Eye returns and delivers some hefty weekend reading…. Like General Douglas MacArthur, The Eye had to return from my Remote Pacific Island sometime. What better reason than to deliver to our readers Mr Vinod Khosla’s, tech investor and now Health Futurist, latest pronunciamento via VentureBeat.

It is, as they said in 1950, a beaut. It’s apparent Mr Khosla need not even speak at conferences anymore, because he can publish on his investment company’s website a ‘Draft’ entitled ’20 percent doctor included: Speculations and musings of a technology optimist’. It is being treated in certain quarters like Moses toting The Big Tablets down Mount Sinai; at the bottom the DH3 (Digital Health Hypester Horde) swoon in the usual places.

Mr Khosla reiterates some of his bomb-thrower memes from a couple of years ago: 80 percent of doctors could be replaced by machines, doctors were clinging to ‘voodoo-like practices’ and eventually we will not need doctors because we’ll be weller through technology and Big Data anyway. But the Eye’s Review of the ‘Draft’–which Eye was prepared to give the Gimlety Treatment–is that his prior attention-getting statements are not only more qualified (or stated more gently), but also backed up with real data, examples and mostly memorably, legitimately forward thinking whch largely avoids blaming doctors and shifts it onto the laggard Medical Establishment. “In fifteen years, data will transform diagnostics, to the point where automated systems may displace up to 80-percent of physicians’ standard work. Technological developments will AMPLIFY physicians’ abilities (more…)

Fast funding and sale roundup for Thursday/Friday

A quick summary of news on both recent funding, another recently released funding analysis to add to the pile and sales–one completed, one potential:

  • The StartUp Health accelerator is now producing its independent analysis of health tech funding deals, presumably to catch the fire of RockHealth’s recognized quarterly report [TTA 9 July]. The July 2013 Digital Health Insights Funding Report is available in Slideshare format on their website with the most reported news being the 47 percent year-over-year growth to date, contrasting to RockHealth’s 12 percent, though the difference in all three may be the sampling. Practice management, big data and body computing/sensors lead the trends, according to their summary.
  • What is intriguing in the July deals is the whopping $40 million Series A funding of Oscar, which will integrate telemedicine (presumably consults) and free generic medications to its members in New York State, where they’ve stated they will be integrated into the Health Exchange in NY State. One wonders how they plan to do so on insurance exchanges which haven’t even started yet and which will be having their own challenges being a retail platform for health plans. Not unexpectedly you’ll find Khosla Ventures and Thrive Capital on the roster. MedSynergies led with a $65 million Series A for their software which will facilitate hospital networks performance monitoring of practices and provider referrals/scheduling. Internationally, Withings raised a $30 million Series A in July. MedCityNews also delves deeper into what they see as trends.
  • Fitbit just raised an additional $43 million to add to their previous $23 million. While they are still lagging fitness monitoring rival Jawbone UP by $84 million, rumors abound on what Fitbit plans to do with it: a more fully featured smartwatch? Additional apps to keep their user base engaged?–at the risk of overcomplication?   Fortune, TechCrunch
  • Toronto-based Diversinet closed their sale to New Jersey-based IMS Health for what seems like a small amount: (US)$3.5 million. Its MobiSecure technology provides government-security level mobile app security to customers such as AirStrip and the US Army. However, they were embroiled in early days in a breakup with a mobile provider, AllOne Health, and despite all their high-level tech clearances, the income realized, according to Mobihealthnews, was only in the $1 million range per year and declining and losses increasing. IMS Health is best known for its healthcare informatics, but has been involved with Ford’s in-car SYNC in development of the Allergy Alert app [TTA 7 Aug 12].
  • The ‘For Sale’ sign is also up at BlackBerry, with a corporate committee now officially exploring alliances and a sale, in the usual depressing drill. In a company once ubiquitous enough for smartphone usage to be dubbed ‘Crackberry’, and which still enjoys major worldwide market share and enterprise favor, they cannot get traction with new models. This Editor never used or liked BB, but it’s still kind of sad. ZDNet.