Unicorns to Series A–health tech funding gained in (perhaps) the nick of time

click to enlargeMoney, money everywhere–unicorns get the headlines, but the companies are still (largely) small

Up until early August, this Editor would have assumed that our Readers would look at this funding roundup as a bracing windup to a largely positive eight months and a veritable Corvette Summer for healthcare technology funding. We may have to give back the keys a little sooner than we imagined. Will the dropping market affect digital health as 2008-9 did–‘out of gas’ for years? Or will it barely affect our motoring onward? Despite the Dow Jones average hitting an 18 month low today, we hope it’s closer to the latter than the former. though the new and big entrant to digital health investing is the country most affected, China.

Our roundup of the August Action includes ZocDoc, Fitbit, Alphabet, PillPack, Owlet and more, along with a few comments:

**ZocDoc, a NYC-based online medical care appointment service that matches patients with doctors by location and schedule, had the most sensational round with last week’s Series D funding of $130 million, giving it a valuation of $1.8 bn. It took over a year after the filing (June 2014) and was led by two foreign funds (London-based Atomico and Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford) with additional funding from Founders Fund, which previously participated in raises of $95 million.

Though it claims 60 percent coverage in the US  and ‘millions of users’ (numbers which have been quoted for some years), ZocDoc won’t disclose profitability nor volume–metrics that would be part of any IPO.

Direction? Points given for deciphering this windy statement (quoted from Mobihealthnews):

“The company will more heavily invest in developing products that sit on top of ZocDoc’s core marketplace and extend beyond its hallmark scheduling capability,” the company wrote in a statement. “These products will remain focused on solving patient problems and facilitating even more patient interactions within the healthcare ecosystem.”

Say wot? A better guess on intent is out of TechCrunch: foreign investment=foreign markets–a move that like that IPO, has been rumored for some time. Now that it’s a CB Insights $1 bn+ startup unicorn, fresher fields are overseas. TechCrunchCrunchBase, Reuters, Mobihealthnews

**It may have to expand its grazing, as a more sophisticated doctor-patient pairing company, Grand Rounds, last Thursday had a $55 million raise for a total of $106 million. It targets corporate health care costs and also claims operations in 120 countries (!). Fortune

**And speaking of startup unicorns, healthcare companies that CB Insights predicts have a good chance of making their list are PillPack [TTA 14 July], Flatiron Health (data analytics for oncology providers), One Medical services and EHR Practice Fusion. NY Times  Wait–aren’t unicorns mythical beasts?

**And speaking of IPOs, it may be just as well that neither ZocDoc nor Editor Charles’ favorite Jawbone have IPO’d, given the market. Fitbit’s sputtered from a post-IPO market high of $51.64 on 5 Aug to close today at $37.36.

**Alphabet, Google‘s new holding company, is establishing its Life Sciences team (home of the blood glucose sensing contact lens) as its own company, with a new moniker to come. It will tackle chronic disease detection and prevention, separately from Calico, which is working on anti-aging and longevity tech. LA Times, Wired

**MedCityNews looks at four more funding rounds from last week: predictive analytics cruncher Zephyr Health ($17.5 million Series C), Gauss Surgical (blood loss measurement, $3.3 million venture), Fit4D (diabetes coaching, $2.8 million Series A) and one of our favorites, the Owlet baby sock that measures vital signs. An ‘awww’ inspiring product that just raised $7 million in a Series A. This Editor has predicted the Owlet will be a ‘must’ gift (@ $250) at baby showers after (finally) debuting this fall. Also Mobihealthnews.

**Every year, Inc. makes headlines with its ‘5000’ list which lists private company year-over-year growth and revenues, along with jobs added. These are, of course, self reported. A few digital health companies (notably not ZocDoc) made the list which is ranked by growth: corporate health engager Welltok, Mobile Help and Vitals (another Zocdoc-type company). What is notable is that aside from a few outliers, most are in the $3 million to $20 million range. There’s a ways to go. Mobihealthnews, Inc. 5000

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