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Tag: Health

Startups Weekly: The opportunities & challenges for mental health tech

July 21, 2019 No Comments

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about Zoom and Superhuman’s PR disasters. Before that, I noted the big uptick in VC spending in 2019.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

Now let’s talk about mental health startups. VCs may be confident in the potential of teletherapy, but struggling companies in the space tell another story.

Nine months ago Basis launched a website and app for guided conversations via chat or video with pseudo-therapists or people trained in research-backed approaches but who lack the same certifications as a counseling or clinical psychologist. I wrote a story noting that the company, led by former Uber VP Andrew Chapin, had raised a $ 3.75 million round from Bedrock, Wave Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

But last month, things took a turn for the worse. Basis quietly shut down its website and app, its co-founder and chief science officer, Lindsay Trent, a former research psychologist at Stanford, exited and a good chunk of eight-person team went out the door.

Basis was one of many startups to benefit from VCs’ growing appetite for innovative businesses in the mental health sector. As the stigma associated with seeking mental health support has dwindled and technology developments have allowed for personalized mental health tools and practices, more entrepreneurs have entered the space. Basis, despite having many of the ingredients needed for startup success, couldn’t achieve success with its direct-to-consumer approach to therapy.

Basis Team

Basis co-founder and CEO Andrew Chapin (center) with the founding team last year

When asked why the Basis app and website were no longer active, Chapin said the company is in the process of “shifting business models.” He declined to provide further details. Lightspeed declined to comment. Wave Capital and Bedrock did not respond to requests for comment.

Basis, which did not claim to treat diagnosable conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, charged $ 35 per 45-minute phone call with its paraprofessionals. Its use of unlicensed therapists sparked concern in the mental health provider community. Harley Therapy founder Sheri Jacobson, an accredited counselor and psychotherapist, noted flaws with the service: “For me, replacing professional therapists and all of their lived experience and empathy with telepsychiatry administered by novice advisers could be potentially dangerous,” Jacobson said in a statement. “Would you let a learner driver navigate an oil tanker?”

Consumer mental health startups continue to attract capital from private market investors. Workplace mental health service Unmind, Blackthorn Therapeutics (a neurobehavioral health company using machine learning to create personalized medicine for mental health) and Talkspace (a leader in the online counseling space) have all closed funding rounds in 2019.

Whether Basis will find its footing is TBD. What’s clear is VCs are still willing to dole out checks as they experiment with the mental health space, but if startups don’t start proving viable business models and learn to navigate the complex adoption curve, we’ll see additional startups cease operations and mental health tech’s moment in the sun will end all too soon.

Now for a quick look at the top VC and startup news of the week:

Adam Neumann (WeWork) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

Adam Neumann did what?

The eccentric co-founder and CEO of the international real estate co-working startup WeWork has reportedly cashed out of more than $ 700 million from his company ahead of its upcoming IPO. According to Axios, a majority of that capital came in the form of loans while the remaining $ 300 million came from stock sales. The size and timing of the payouts is unusual, considering that founders typically wait until after a company holds its public offering to liquidate their holdings. But even with the big sale, Neumann remains the single largest shareholder in WeWork.

Medallia soars

The customer experience management platform priced shares of its stock at $ 21 apiece Thursday, closing up Friday a whopping 76%. Money left on the table? I think so, and I bet Bill Gurley does too. The nearly two-decades-old company sold a total of 15.5 million shares in its IPO, raising $ 326 million at a $ 2.5 billion valuation in the process. Medallia’s $ 268 million in VC funding came from Sequoia Capital — which owned a roughly 40% pre-IPO stake — Saints Capital, TriplePoint Venture Growth and Grotmol Solutions.


Uber finally sets diversity and inclusion goals

Within the next three years, Uber aims to increase the percentage of women at levels L5 and higher (manager and above) to 35% and increase the percentage of underrepresented employees at levels L4 and higher to 14%. Currently, Uber is 9.3% black and 8.3% Latinx compared to just 8.1% black and 6.1% Latinx last year. Uber’s tech team, however, is just 3.6% black, 4.4% Latinx and 2.7% multi-racial. Unsurprisingly, there’s little representation of black and brown people in leadership roles. While Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi commented that he’s proud the promotion rates for women have improved over the last couple of years, he added, “I can’t yet say the same for promotions for people of color.”

Email platforms and productivity apps and subscription tools, oh my!

Startups focused on improving productivity and email are unstoppable this year. The latest to close VC rounds are Substack and Notion. Andreessen Horowitz is betting that there’s still a big opportunity in newsletters, leading a $ 15.3 million Series A in Substack. The company, which consists of just three employees working out of a living room, says that newsletters on the platform have now amassed a total of 50,000 paying subscribers (up from 25,000 in October) and that the most popular Substack authors are already making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. As for Notion, The Information reported this week that it raised $ 10 million at an $ 800 million valuation. Notion is a note-taking and task management app that hasn’t sought much VC funding and, as a result, VCs have been desperately knocking at its door.

Other notable funding events of the week:

The trouble with blitzscaling

Silicon Valley has many dreams. One dream — the Hollywood version anyway — is for a down-and-out founder to begin tinkering and coding in their proverbial garage, eventually building a product that is loved by humans the world over and becoming a startup billionaire in the process. But when it comes to that Silicon Valley dream of a nice house from a decent return on exit, it’s getting narrower and less widely distributed. Blitzscaling is making a lot of people a lot of wealth, but early employees? Not so much.

Read more from TechCrunch editor Danny Crichton.

TechCrunch’s senior transportation reporter Kirsten Korosec.

Get ready for … The Station

TechCrunch senior transportation reporter Kirsten Korosec has something great in the works. All of us here at TechCrunch are very excited to announce The Station, a new TechCrunch newsletter all about mobility. Each week, in addition to curating the biggest transportation news, Kirsten will provide analysis, original reporting and insider tips on the fast-growing industry. Sign up here to get The Station in your inbox beginning in August.

~Extra Crunch~

While we’re on the subject of amazing TechCrunch #content, it’s probably time for a reminder for all of you to sign up for Extra Crunch. For a low price, you can learn more about the startups and venture capital ecosystem through exclusive deep dives, Q&As, newsletters, resources and recommendations and fundamental startup how-to guides. Here are some of my personal favorite EC posts from the past week:

#EquityPod

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm and I debate Forbes’ latest next billion-dollar startups list.

Extra Crunch subscribers can read a transcript of each week’s episode every Saturday. Read last week’s episode here and learn more about Extra Crunch hereEquity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.

That’s all, folks.


Startups – TechCrunch


Gadget Lab Podcast: Robots, Smart Health, and Security Fails at CES

January 12, 2019 No Comments

WIRED’s Gadget Lab team kicks off the new year with a wrap-up of the year’s biggest electronics show. Plus, an interview with Reddit’s Jen Wong.
Feed: All Latest


Recent departures hint at turmoil at Quartet Health, a mental health startup backed by GV

October 7, 2018 No Comments

Backed with nearly $ 87 million in venture capital funding from GV, Oak HC/FT and F-Prime Capital, Quartet Health was founded in 2014 by Arun Gupta, Steve Shulman and David Wennberg to improve access to behavioral healthcare. Its mission: “enable every person in our society to thrive by building a collaborative behavioral and physical health ecosystem.”

Recent shakeups within the New York-based company’s c-suite and a perusal of its Glassdoor profile suggest Quartet’s culture is not fully in line with its own philosophy.  

In the last few weeks, chief product officer Rajesh Midha has left the company and president and chief operating officer David Liu is on his way out, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed with Quartet. Founding chief executive officer Arun Gupta, meanwhile, has stepped into the executive chairman role, relinquishing responsibility of the company’s day-to-day operations to former chief science officer David Wennberg, who’s taken over as CEO.

“I’m focusing on our external growth,” Gupta told TechCrunch on Friday. “David has really stepped up as CEO.”

Gupta and Wennberg said Liu’s role was no longer needed because Wennberg had assumed his responsibilities. Liu will formally exit the company at the end of the month. As for its product chief, the pair say Midha had “transitioned out” of the role and that an unnamed internal candidate was tapped to replace him.

When asked whether other employees had left in recent weeks,  Wennberg provided the following indeterminate statement: “We are always having people coming in. I don’t think we’ve had any unusual turnover. We’re hiring and people’s roles change and that’s just part of growth.”

Quartet, which provides a platform that allows providers to collaborate on treatment plans, currently has 150 employees, according to its executives.

In a LinkedIn status update published this week — after TechCrunch’s initial inquiries — Gupta announced his transition to executive chairman:

“Still full-time, though focused largely on our opportunity to further evangelize our mission, [I will] drive the change we want to see in this world, and expand our reach … I have tremendous confidence in David’s ability to lead our many talented Quartetians to deliver this next phase.”

Several former employees seemed less than pleased with Gupta’s performance, writing in a number of Glassdoor reviews that he was “abominable,” “kind of a monster” and “by far the worst executive.”

When asked for comment on those reviews, Gupta and Wennberg shrugged it off: “Glassdoor is Glassdoor.” They agreed its important to pay attention to but impossible to vet.

Gupta began his career as a management consultant at McKinsey and served as a consultant to The World Bank before joining Palantir, Peter Thiel’s data-mining company, as an advisor in 2014. Wennberg, for his part, was the CEO of The High Value Healthcare Collaborative, a consortium of 15 healthcare delivery systems, before co-founding Quartet.

In January, Quartet raised a $ 40 million Series C to expand throughout the U.S. F-Prime Capital and Polaris Partners led the round, with participation from GV and Oak HC/FT. The financing valued the company at $ 300 million, according to PitchBook.

As part of the funding, Quartet announced it was adding three new directors to its board: F-Prime’s executive partner Carl Byers; Ken Goulet, an executive vice president at health insurance provider Anthem; and former Rackspace CEO and BuildGroup co-founder Lanham Napier. Other outside board members include Oak HC/FT’s managing partner Annie Lamont, GV partner Krishna Yeshwant, Polaris managing partner Brian Chee and former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

Quartet previously raised a $ 40 million Series B in April 2016 led by GV. The investment marked the venture capital investment arm of Google’s first in a mental health startup. Before that, the startup brought in a $ 7 million Series A led by Oak HC/FT’s managing partner Annie Lamont.

For now, Quartet remains committed to growth.

“We learn from what we are doing and we continue to learn,” Wennberg said. “That is part of growth. It’s hard and you just keep working and growing because we have a huge mission.”


Startups – TechCrunch


Twitter Seeks Health Metrics To Help It Improve Its Platform

March 2, 2018 No Comments

The social network is asking experts to help it learn to be a less toxic place online.
Feed: All Latest


Child health advocates call for Facebook to shutter Messenger Kids app

January 30, 2018 No Comments

 The slings and arrows of outrage keep flying at Facebook. Today a coalition of child health advocates has published an open letter addressing CEO Mark Zuckerberg and calling for the company to shutter Messenger Kids: Aka the Snapchat-ish comms app it launched in the US last December — targeted at the under 13s. Read More
Social – TechCrunch


iUNU aims to build cameras on rails for growers to keep track of their crop health

November 14, 2017 No Comments

 You’ve probably spent a lot of time keeping track of your plants and all the minor details, like the coloration of the leaves, in order to make sure they’re healthy — but for professional growers in greenhouses, this means keeping track of thousands of plants all at once. That can get out of hand really quickly as it could involve just walking through a greenhouse with an… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch


Thanks to AI, Computers Can Now See Your Health Problems

January 9, 2017 No Comments
Thanks to AI, Computers Can Now See Your Health Problems

Machine learning is helping doctors diagnose things like genetic disorders, Alzheimer’s, and autism faster than ever before. The post Thanks to AI, Computers Can Now See Your Health Problems appeared first on WIRED.
WIRED