Author Archive

The 10 Most Beloved CEOs in Digital Health

| October 22, 2014


It’s no secret that a company’s vision and culture stem from the top. Without the right leader at the helm, even the best ideas fail to gain traction. Sometimes this leadership takes the form of a benevolent chieftain (Richard Branson); and other times s/he is a ruthless perfectionist (Steve Jobs).

So with the deluge of growing digital health companies, we wanted to know which CEOs had the most respect from their teams. According to Glassdoor, an online jobs and careers community where employees rate CEOs, Evolent Health’s Frank Williams took first place with a 98% approval rate, followed by Castlight’s Giovanni Colella (95%) and Fitbit’s James Park (94%).

The distinguishing characteristic apparent in employee testimonials is that good CEOs hire well: nearly all the positive testimonials pointed to smart, supportive co-workers as a “pro” (followed only by ping pong tables).

Kickstarter finally ends long-time ban on health campaigns

| June 05, 2014|Tags: , ,

Photo by Thomas HawkPhoto by Thomas Hawk

Kickstarter recently announced an end to their long-time ban on health and medical products. As the largest crowdfunding platform, with $1B in pledges since it launched in 2009, Kickstarter originally opted out of the digital health space to focus on creative campaigns such as design, art, and film. (Check out this spreadsheet that details funding amounts raised on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter by category).

Indiegogo has since emerged as the de facto platform for digital health crowdfunding, with $7.8M in funded projects in 2013, and $2.1M raised thus far in 2014.  They’re known as the open platform, which means there is minimal (or no) formal vetting of campaigns and a higher percentage of campaign failures. In fact, the majority of healthcare campaigns on Indiegogo fail to raise their goal.

Digital health crowdfunding campaigns in 2013


Meet the sixth group of Rock Health companies

| May 19, 2014|Tags:

It is with much excitement and pride that we present seven of the newest Rock Health startups, who are part of a portfolio of nearly 50 active companies tackling some of the most significant problems in healthcare. Over the past five months, they have received funding and support from Rock Health and will continue to receive support throughout their lifespan. This diverse group of companies ranges from an analytics tool for the ICU to an impeccably designed dentist office on wheels.


Omada Health seals a $23M Series B to bring digital therapeutics to diabetics

| April 09, 2014|Tags:

The Rock Health team is proud to announce that portfolio company Omada Health has just closed their $23M Series B (full press release here) from Andreessen Horowitz and Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

I first met with the Omada co-founders three years ago when they were still employees at IDEO. We chatted over lunch at South Park Cafe, and they quickly won me over with their vision for a software-based therapy to prevent diabetes more effectively and for less money than a drug. We offered them a $20,000 grant to quit their jobs and join us at Rock Health’s first class.

The Omada Health co-founders, Adrian James, Sean Duffy, and Andrew DiMichele, at the original Rock Health office

Rock Health entrepreneur breakdown: female founders

| March 25, 2014

I thought it would be a good time to look into (and publish) data on entrepreneur demographics at Rock Health. The data is interesting. I’ll spread this over a few posts, today’s post will focus on gender.

Looking at the active Rock Health startups, 30% of our portfolio companies have a female founder.

My initial thought was “we need to do better,” so I decided to also look at the application data to get an idea of the supply with which we’re working. In 2013, to my surprise, exactly 30% of the companies that applied to Rock Health had at least one female founder. 19% had a mix of male and female founders, 11% were all female founders, and 70% were all male founders.

All applicants are treated equally when applying to Rock Health. We look at the experience and capabilities of the founding team, along with the sustainability and scalability of the business. We’d love to see more diverse applicants, and have invested quite a bit into supporting women in particular (via our XX in Health initiative).

I think one of the best ways to encourage more women to join us at Rock Health is to show off the amazing female founders we currently support. So without further ado, here are the incredibly bright, inspiring, and hard-working women leading the digital health revolution:

SXSW 2014: The Top Events for Health Geeks

| February 28, 2014|Tags: , ,

sxsw night

We’re headed to Austin, and it’s going to get weird! This is Rock Health’s fifth consecutive year at the behemoth tech conference, and we’re amazed at the growth of the healthcare presence.  We take the four-day conference seriously, and want to share with you our top picks for this year’s event.

Badge Required:

Make It Rain: The New Healthcare Funding Landscape

Friday, March 7th, 2014
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon G
I’m on this panel, so you betterbethere!

Body Computing: The Future of Networked Humans

Saturday, March 8th, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
If you’re an early bird, you won’t want to miss USC’s Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine  Leslie Saxon’s session. She heads up the Center for Body Computing, an interdisciplinary brain trust that believes technology is the solution to healthcare problems.

2013 Digital Health Funding Report

| January 06, 2014|Tags: ,

As we ring in the New Year, we are proud to publish our third comprehensive year-end report on funding in digital health.

Since we published our first report in 2011, digital health funding has more than doubled. In addition to detailing the state of venture funding (the entrepreneurs, the investors, the trends), this latest report also highlights crowdfunding trends and public markets.

More growth in 2013

In 2013, digital health funding smashed records — exceeding $1.9B with 195 venture deals ($2M+). Funding was up 39% from 2012 and 119% compared to 2011. In 2014,  the digital health industry is set to surpass total medical device venture funding.


The major themes of 2013 comprise nearly 50% of all funding for the entire year

Six themes emerged in 2013, representing nearly 50% of all funding. The largest theme continues to be electronic health records and their surrounding applications.


Entrepreneurs continue to find their way to California and the Bay Area to build their digital health companies

In 2013, California continued to dominate as  homebase for funded startups, with over a third of all deals taking place in the golden state.  Massachusetts (19) and New York (10) followed.


# deals in 2013















Serial investors tripled from 2012

While we continued to see investors “dabbling” in digital health (just 1 deal), the amount of “serial investors” (3+ deals) tripled from 2012 to 2013.   While the past was indicative of a learning phase, we’re now seeing more firms define and execute a strategy for investing in digital health. 32% of the digital health dabblers from 2012 invested again in 2013, with eight joining the ranks of serial investors.

The six most active investors of the year are a mixed bunch — three are primarily tech VCs, two are corporate VCs, and one is a life science / healthcare VCs.

Tech investors: Social+Capital Partnership (7), Norwest Venture Partners (6 deals),  Khosla Ventures (4)
Corporate VCs: Qualcomm (4), Merck (4)
Life Science / Healthcare: Cardinal Partners (4)

Dive into the full report here.

Women’s voices largely missing from healthcare conferences (and how we can fix it in 2014)

| December 13, 2013

Research by Serene Lau and Kelly Hennessee

Where the ladies at? Not on stage at healthcare conferences. Hundreds of leaders were given the spotlight at dozens of healthcare conferences this year, but we couldn’t help but notice the uncomfortable dearth of women on stage.


I spoke at 22 events this year, most looked like this.

We wanted to know the actual numbers, so the XX in Health team looked at speaker demographics from 11 of the 12 largest conferences of 2013 (we couldn’t access speaker lineup from HIMSS).  Here’s the dismal data:

xx women healthcare conference logos

At very best, women were still just 38% of the faces on stage. Even our team failed at diversity on stage—our annual Health Innovation Summit clocked in at only 36% female speakers.  We have to do better than this.

Why? Women are a driving force in healthcare. They are the Chief Medical Officers of the home, making 80% of health care decisions for their families (United States Department of Labor).  As we watch the consumerization of healthcare unfold before us, it will only become more important to have women join men and share their experiences on stage.

We all know there are fewer women in leadership positions than men (e.g. women make up just 14% of the Fortune 500 healthcare company boards, and only one CEO). In addition, these women are in demand and have to turn down speaking opportunities at a higher rate. From our experience inviting speakers to Health Innovation Summit 2013, males were 20% more likely to accept our invitations than females. We also received at least a dozen inbound requests from men to speak, and not a single e-mail from an opportunistic female speaker.

Let’s make it really, really easy for conference organizers to learn about amazing women working in healthcare. Visit our database of leading female speakers. Do you know a woman who deserves some stage time? Just add her information. We’ll share with conference organizers around the world.

We have the opportunity to make our industry more diverse and dynamic, starting with healthcare events in 2014. We can and should set a better example for the industry, and for the next generation of leaders.

Learn more about our XX in Health initiative.

Digital Health Funding Update: Q3 2013

| October 01, 2013

Funding on the rise, no surprise

It’s a record year, and we’re only through three quarters. Venture funding in digital health continues to increase, with $1.5B flowing into digital health in 2013 so far. Digital health funding is up 37% relative to Q3 2012 on a total of 145 deals since January 1st.

Q3 2013 Funding by Quarter_Post

Big ones

The biggest deals of Q3 include:

  • Evolent Health ($100M) provides technology and tools to ease the transition to value-based care

  • Practice Fusion ($70M) is a free, web-based electronic health record service for providers

  • FitBit ($43M) is a personal motion sensor that tracks your physical activity

  • Withings ($30M) creates connected health objects including a connected body scale and blood pressure monitor

  • Ayasdi ($30M) uses big data to uncover more targeted treatments for disease

  • ZeOmega ($21.5M) Provides a population health management platform for payers, providers and value-based care organizations

  • Audax Health ($20M) is a gaming / rewards platform that helps consumers make healthy living decisions

West vs. East

California remains the most fertile ground for digital health entrepreneurs, with more than four times as many deals in 2013 as the next state.

CA          48

MA          11

NY           8

TX           6

FL          5

PA          5

DC          5

CO          5

IL            4

AZ          4

Indie a-go-go

This year, we started tracking crowdfunding of digital health campaigns on Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Medstartr, and Fundable. There were 34 digital health crowdfunding campaigns that closed in Q3, raising a total of $2.1M.

The most successful campaigns of Q3 included:

  • Scanadu raised $1.7M on Indiegogo for a medical tricorder

  • Sensoria Fitness raised $115K on Indiegogo for its sensor-filled socks

  • Galvanic raised a little over $100K on Kickstarter for its galvanic skin response biosensor, PIP

The Scanadu campaign, which began in Q2 and closed in Q3 was responsible for more than 80% of the dollars in the quarter. Crowdfunding for digital health resembles a hits business, with 85% of the campaigns that closed in Q3 failing to raise even $20,000.

Record year? Predicted in Q1, settled in Q3.

 Q3 2013 Funding YoY Post

Get the data

What’s next for 2014

| September 30, 2013

From Day 1, our goal has been to serve the most talented entrepreneurs—those with a vision for dramatically changing healthcare for the better. Our resources, curriculum, and community have evolved since we welcomed our first class of entrepreneurs in early 2011, but we have always worked one-on-one with each team to best understand their unique business challenges and personalize our support.

As we continue on this quest, we are constantly working to provide even more value to healthcare entrepreneurs.  In 2011, we launched the first seed accelerator for healthcare companies. Last year we announced an increase in funding from $20,000 to $100,000 to advance our portfolio companies even further.  Earlier this year, we announced breaking ground on a new office in Mission Bay, San Francisco with more offices and workspace.

And today we want to articulate how we are making our program even more valuable for entrepreneurs: (more…)