News and deal roundup: Zus Health’s $34M ‘back-end in a box’, Bright Health’s IPO, Lyra Health’s $200M done, Valo Health’s $2.8B SPAC; UK’s Alcuris, Clarity Informatics, GTX test; Google’s health blues, Facebook’s smartwatch

Athenahealth founder’s latest health tech venture lays track. Jonathan Bush’s new venture, Zus Health, is being pitched to tech founders as providing a ‘Lego’ like back-end for startup digital health companies. Variously compared to ‘Build-A-Bear’ or track laying, it’s an ‘in a box’ setup that provides a data record back end, a software development kit (SDK) with tools and services, and a patient interface. Presumably, this will also assist interoperability. Mr. Bush has enlisted an all-star team and is basing outside of Boston in the familiar area of Watertown, Massachusetts. Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led the $34 million Series A, joined by F-Prime Capital, Maverick Ventures, Rock Health, Martin Ventures, and Oxeon Investments. The financing will be used for engineering the tech stack. Current clients developed in stealth include Cityblock Health, Dorsata, Firefly Health, and Oak Street Health. Not a breath about the revenue model other than ‘partnership’. Make sure you pronounce Zus as ‘Zeus’ (Athena’s father for those who aren’t up on their Greek myths). Zus release, FierceHealthcare

This week’s IPO filing by insurtech/clinic operator Bright Health with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirmed earlier reports that the offering will crest over $1 billion [TTA 28 May]: 60 million shares with an initial valuation of $20 to $23 is at a minimum of $1.2 billion. Company valuation is estimated at $14 billion which is about midpoint of earlier estimates. It will trade on the NYSE under BHG. The cherry on the cake is a 7.2 million 30-day share purchase option to their underwriters at the initial IPO price. Timing is not addressed in the release but expect it soon. BHG release, Mobihealthnews

Lyra Health banks an additional $200 million. This week the corporate mental health therapy provider completed their Series F $200M financing backed by Coatue, new investor Sands Capital, plus existing investors, for a total of $675 million to date (Crunchbase). Valuation is now estimated at $4.6 billion. Mental and behavioral health tech remains warm, with the thundercloud on the horizon Teladoc’s myStrength app [TTA 14 May]. Lyra’s strong corporate footprint puts them, along with Ginger, in a desirable place for acquisition by a telehealth provider or payer. Lyra release, FierceHealthcare

Drug discovery and development company Valo Health is going the SPAC route with Khosla Ventures. The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Khosla Ventures Acquisition Co. will form with Valo Health a new company (KVAC) with a pro for­ma mar­ket val­ue of approx­i­mate­ly $2.8 bil­lion with an initial cash balance of $750 million including a $168 million PIPE led by Khosla Ventures. Valo’s flagship is the Opal Computational Platform that creates an AI-based platform for drug discovery. The current pipeline has two clin­i­cal-stage assets and 15 pri­or­i­tized pre-clin­i­cal assets across car­dio­vas­cu­lar meta­bol­ic renal, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion, and oncol­o­gy fields. Khosla has been largely absent from digital health investments. The SPAC route to IPOs has also cooled. Valo release, Mobihealthnews  

And short takes on other news…


Alcuris’ assistive technology (the Connec+ platform and Memo Hub) was awarded Best Independent Living Solution in the Digital Health innovation section of the Future Digital Awards 2021 run by Juniper Research. Release (PDF) Hat tip to reader Adrian Scaife of Alcuris

Clarity Informatics of Wallsend was acquired by Agilio Software based in Devon. Clarity is a spinoff of Newcastle University that specializes in software ranging from compliance to clinical guidance. Clarity is used in about 80 percent of England’s GP surgeries. Agilio also specializes in the primary care software market. Terms and management transitions were not disclosed. Clarity release, BusinessLiveUK

GTX Corp., developer of a trackable GPS smart sole, is beginning a clinical test of its new Cat M1 LTE SmartSoles with Possum UK. This is to qualify for CE certification. Connectivity providers in UK and Europe are Orange and Telefónica for connectivity. GTX is also testing SmartSoles in the US and Canada for FCC and IC certification with Verizon, as well as Europe and Australia. The SmartSole is designed for non-invasive tracking of those with dementia and autism. Street Insider. Hat tip for these two from a UK ‘insider’ Reader who remains anonymous. 


The FDA rejected Alphabet/Google’s Verily application for the Virtual Motor Exam for Parkinson’s Disease. According to Mobihealthnews, the VME is a clinical trial tool that evaluates the effectiveness of certain interventions and was designed to run on a specially designed smartwatch to capture information in vivo. The rejection was based on an estimation that the VME would have limited ability to capture the full picture of a patient’s capacities and/or meaningful change in patient function.

Google Health has spun off staff in health initiative groups into those areas. Of the 700 counted under Google Health, 570 remain. Staff working on health sensors and personal health records as well as some business development leaders have been relocated under Fitbit. Another team supports the EHR search tool Care Studio initiative [TTA 9 April] piloting at St. Louis-based Ascension and Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. A group will work under Health AI for genomics and medical imaging. Yet another group appears to pull clinicians from other areas such as Fitbit and Google Fit to handle regulatory, clinical, and health equity matters at Google Health and other health areas. Becker’s Health IT (Insider is paywalled)

And speaking of smartwatches, Facebook (yes, them) plans to introduce a smartwatch that 1) takes pictures and videos shareable on Facebook and their owned social media such as Instagram, 2) video calls, plus 3) a heart rate monitor (!) The Verge notes that Facebook’s device track record is spotty, but the aim is a different one–weaning away from dependence on Google and Apple. They are working with wireless carriers for the watch to be carried in their stores by summer 2022.

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