DC To VC: An Inside Look At The Winners Of Morganthaler’s Health Tech Startup Showcase


Last week, Morganthaler Ventures, the 40-year-old Sand Hill Road VC firm wrapped up its “DC to VC Startup Showcase”, a nationwide contest geared towards finding the most promising young health tech startups. From nearly 200 applicants, the pool was whittled down to eleven finalists, which presented to an invite-only crowd of VCs, angel investors and entrepreneurs. The companies were then categorized according to whether they were seeking seed funding or looking to raise their series A.

The live audience of over 350 health tech enthusiasts, as well as those watching on live stream, put the finishing touch on the months-long competition, selecting the winners (after commentary from a panel of VC and entrepreneurial judges). The winner of the seed round contest was EyeNetra, an affordable, mobile diagnostic tool for our eyes, and Jiff Inc. took top prize in the series A flight with its HIPAA-compliant iPad platform for patient communication and education.

Of course, while there were two winners, the DC to VC audience chose from a group of strong finalists. For more on those finalists, check out the quick blurbs below as well as the video of presentations at the end.

Seed Finalists:

Careticker is the world’s first platform that helps patients plan in advance for a hospital or outpatient procedure.

Skimble powers the mobile wellness movement with a cross-platform ecosystem of fun and dynamic coaching applications. Its latest title, Workout Trainer, ranks Top 10 in the free Healthcare & Fitness category on iPhone/iPad.

SurgiChart is a mobile, cloud-based, social-clinical network for surgeons to exchange relevant perioperative, case-centric information.

TeleThrive provides patients an instant connection to doctors for a medical consultation using any telephone or computer with complete audio and video conferencing.

Viewics provides hospitals with cloud-based analytics and business intelligence solutions which enable them to drive enhanced operational, financial and clinical outcomes.

Series-A Finalists:

AbilTo develops and delivers online mental health programs to managed care members and enterprise workforces that help reduce payor costs while improving overall health outcomes.

Axial Exchange moves healthcare organizations towards pay-for-performance, enabling providers to coordinate care and measure clinical quality across disparate settings.

Empower Interactive’s online services deliver proven psychotherapy methodologies via an e-learning platform to greatly improve the economics and accessibility of mental and behavioral health solutions.

YourNurseIsOn.com employs bi-directional text, phone and email communications to help hospitals and agencies put “the right healthcare providers, in the right places, right now.”

CareinSync, a real-time care collaboration platform for smart-mobile devices such as iPhones or iPads to radically transform patient care, was an honorable mention (referred by BluePrint Health IT).

And … The Winners:

Hailing from MIT Media Labs, EyeNetra is developing an eye diagnostic tool for mobile phones that will allow anyone (with minimal training) to take an eye test, receive a diagnostic measurement, and access eye care, all with the touch of a button. According to EyeNetra Founder David Schafran, of the 4 billion people who need glasses in the world today, over half of them don’t have access to eye care — or glasses. Not to mention, the patient experience at eye doctors is less than fun, and eye diagnostic tools tend to be archaic, expensive, require trained professionals to use, and are big and bulky.

So EyeNetra wants to empower patients and those in need of glasses by providing them with a low-cost eye test and options for care accessible from anywhere. At any time. EyeNetra thus offers a smartphone app and a cheap eyepiece that can be attached to a phone with ease to perform a simple alignment test, in minutes allowing the user to receive a refractive assessment for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, etc. What’s more, the company is seeking to offer on-demand eye care, through an eye care network at which the company will sit at the center, brokering between patients and eye care providers, vendors, and service providers.

According to their presentation, “From ‘store-and-forward your electronic prescription’ to ‘personalized prevention and treatment services’, and ‘access and recruit new patients’”, the startup is looking to create an ecosystem of “value-added services” that will enable “whole new businesses”. EyeNetra is also looking to build a solution that includes a suite of eye care devices; it has already developed a cataracts diagnostic and will soon have retina diagnostics, as it works toward building a “medkit” that people can have at home or community health care workers can have in the field.

Jiff, the inbox for healthcare, was founded by James Currier, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded WonderHill, a social gaming company, and Tickle, which became the world’s largest self-assessment company, registering 100 million people and was acquired by Monster.com in 2004. Currier currently co-runs Ooga Labs, an investment and incubation company in Palo Alto.

But what is Jiff? Jiff is an iPad app that gives doctors and physicians the ability to create effective and memorable “teaching moments” right in front of patients, just as they might with a wall poster or anatomical model.

Teaching materials, explanations, gestures, and patients’ questions can be preserved and subsequently emailed to patients after consultations. The medical teaching tool brings the wonder of mobile technology into the doctor’s office, giving patients the opportunity to receive more effective and memorable explanations and diagnoses, while doctors have the satisfaction of knowing that their explanations of ailments and treatments are understood in a visual, interactive way.

The JiffPad is aimed at helping improve healthcare communication and curing the doctor-patient relationship of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

For a deeper look at the finalists, check out the video below:

Excerpt image courtesy of Hook Surgery

Financial-organization: Morganthaler Ventures
Website: morgenthaler.com
Launch Date: September 27, 2011

Morgenthaler Ventures has been in the venture capital business for more than 40 years, steadily investing through every market cycle. Throughout that time, we’ve had the good fortune to work with exceptional entrepreneurs to help build companies of value. Among the many Morgenthaler-funded companies that have gone public or were acquired are: Apple, Atria, Brion, Illustra Technologies, IPC – The Hospitalist Company, Medaphis, Microchip, New Focus, NexTag, NEXTEL, Nuance Communications, Perclose, Premisys, Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, Synopsys and VeriFone.

Learn more

Piictu Launches, Grabs Seed Funding To Grow Its Game-ified Photo Sharing App

Screen shot 2011-09-22 at 11.36.57 AM

Last week, another photo sharing app hit the scene. But before you commence with groaning, Piictu is more than just another photo sharing app, it’s “a fun and simple way to talk and play with pics”. Still groaning? Hold on just a second. In a crowded space, Piictu’s value proposition is that it is offering a new kind of visual network where interactions take place through direct “picture conversations” — not just your average, run-of-the-mill photo sharing.

Piictu Founder Jonathan Slimak says that photos are traditionally static objects of memory, so with his new photo sharing app, he wanted to transform pictures into a conversation medium, and objects of interaction. But what does this mean exactly?

In terms of the daily Piictu experience, for starters, a user uploads a picture, gives it a caption, and immediately receives picture-based responses from other Piictu users, which forms — yup — a picture stream. Where this differs from the pack is that Piictu’s streams are set up in such a ways as they can then be made in the form of a sequential game or center around a question like, “who’s your favorite Ninja Turtle?” As to the former, Slimak cited the example of a number game that focuses on picture-based replies that continue the sequence in a game. For instance, I upload a picture of a vanity license plate that reads “Number 1″ and you might respond with a picture of a two dollar bill, and so on.

Slimak says that the idea came from his experience watching the World Series on TV. His friends were posting pictures of themselves in their favorite teams’ jerseys to a group MMS app. The problem is that most of these images would never be seen again, lost in the pile, but still had great future value for ongoing conversations. So, Slimak created Piictu as an optimization of MMS group chat, with an obvious nod to Instagram.

“Instagram does photo sharing perfectly”, he said, but there’s still room for photos to become the source of rich conversations and game-ified interactions. If you’re one that thinks one picture is really worth a thousand words, then Piictu is the app for you. What’s more, if you were a Photovine user, look no further. The experience of Piictu is remarkably similar to Google’s app, which was retired last month when the Googles shut down Slide.

Giving the TechStars startup a further boost, we’ve learned, is a recent infusion of $750,000 in seed funding, led by SoftBank, RRE, and Betaworks. The round also included angels like Jon Steinberg from Buzzfeed, Josh Guttman from Outbrain, as well as others. (TechStars also contributed to the round.)

Picture streams have been increasing in popularity in tandem with the rise of microblogging. Just as Twitter recently added image galleries to each user’s profile, so are many platforms looking to take advantage of the rise in pictorial conversation (thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and their cameras). Each photo sharing app has to find its niche, and Piictu has already gained some early adoption as a result of its bet that picture streams will only continue to play an increasingly important role in how we interact and converse in our daily life.

And, as is the trend today, it doesn’t hurt to open the platform up to game-ified use cases. Slimak said that, going forward the team plans to add leaderboards to each new photo stream, with the number of “likes”, shares, and views likely determining its ranking.

As to how Piictu plans to monetize its free app? The founder said that he sees Piictu as a great venue by which brands can engage visually with their customers and encourage them to submit original, user-generated content — though it remains to be seen how that will manifest.

But my hunch is that the team just might be onto something with their focus on conversational photo streams. Stay tuned for more.

Oracle To Acquire GoAhead


Oracle this morning announced that it has acquired GoAhead Software, which sells packaged service availability software to network equipment providers (NEPs) and other players in the commmunications industry. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

GoAhead, a privately-held company based in Bellevue, Washington, provides software that speeds the time to market of carrier-grade services that need to be always available at all times.

The company claims its software has seen over 100,000 deployments by NEPs to date.

Customers include Motorola, LG-Nortel, Alcatel and Oki.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close before the end of 2011. Until the deal closes, each company will continue to operate independently.

Website: oracle.com
Launch Date: September 22, 1977

Oracle is an enterprise IT company with a specialty in database management systems.

Learn more

Citigroup Joins Andreessen Horowitz In Backing Fraud Analytics Firm Silver Tail Systems


Silver Tail Systems, a provider of predictive analytics for detection and prevention of online fraud, this morning announced that it has secured an additional round of funding from Citi Ventures, a unit of Citigroup.

This investment, the size of which was not disclosed, is part of a previously announced $20 million Series B funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz (closed in June).

Silver Tail Systems provides on-premise and SaaS solutions to protect operators of online properties that hold critical information, such as e-commerce, financial, government and consumer-facing website publishers and owners, from online fraud and abuse.

The company says it currently monitors more than 750 million users and more than 1.8 billion Web sessions per year.

Launch Date: August 1, 2008
Funding: $22.1M

Silver Tail Systems is the leading provider of predictive analytics to detect and prevent fraud and abuse on websites. Business logic abuse is a rising concern as its extremely difficult to detect and stop, but these hijack threats, velocity attacks and gaming schemes are costing companies millions, if not billions in online fraud. Silver Tail Forensics and Mitigation products use a new generation of detection, efficient investigation and real-time mitigation of events to track suspicious behavior and divert the bad actors,...

Learn more

Japan’s Rakuten Acquires UK E-commerce Site Play.com For $39.1 Million


Amazon, take (another) note.

Rakuten, a massive consumer and business-focused Internet service company, this morning announced that it has acquired e-commerce site Play.com, one of the UK’s largest online retailers.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by Rakuten’s board, the e-business giant is paying approximately £25 million (3.3 billion yen or roughly $39.1 million) in cash for 100 percent of outstanding Play.com stock from its current shareholders.

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Jersey, British Isles, Play.com is today one of the UK’s largest online retailers, with 14 million registered users and 7 million listed products (ranging from DVDs, music, electronics, clothing and accessories.

Play.com employs approximately 500 people (Rakuten employs over 10,000 worldwide).

This is Rakuten’s third acquisition in Europe: the company acquired French e-commerce company PriceMinisterfor $250 million – back in 2010 and bought Tradoria, a German online shopping mall, in July 2011. Rakuten also recently acquired Brazilian e-commerce company Ikeda in addition to Buy.com (also for $250 million).

Earlier this month, the company also announced that it was part of a consortium that invested $100 million in Russia’s leading online retailer, Ozon.ru.

Rakuten, headquartered in Tokyo, is rapidly becoming a giant global player – the company now operates e-commerce businesses in ten countries globally, including Japan.

Company: Rakuten
Launch Date: July 2, 1997

Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755), is one of the world’s leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of consumer and business-focused services including e-commerce, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal & media, online marketing and professional sports. Rakuten is expanding globally and currently has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe and North America. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees worldwide.

Learn more
Company: Play.com

Learn more

Glam Buys Ning, Andreessen Joins Board

Ning logo

After many twists and turns, DIY social network Ning has finally found a home. Glam Media is buying the network of social networks. A final price is not being disclosed. It is likely more than the $35 million News Corp fetched for MySpace from Specific Media and Justin Timberlake, but less than the $100M+ in capital that was poured into the company over the years. Ning’s co-founder, chairman, and original investor Marc Andreessen will be joining Glam’s board as part of the deal. With Glam’s strong IPO prospects, a large part of the acquisition was probably in stock. Other serious bidders included Google, Yahoo, and even Groupon.

Ning started out as a platform where anyone could build their own niche social network. It turned out that most people just wanted to be on Facebook (Andreessen also sits on its board). About 18 months ago, Ning laid off 40 percent of its employees, switched CEOs, and started charging for its product. It went from an ad-supported model to a subscription model, and while it is no Facebook, CEO Jason Rosenthal managed to create a decent business with 100,000 Ning-powered sites and 60 million monthly unique visitors. If you just look at the subscription plans and apply a discount, the business is easily doing somewhere between $10 million and $20 million a year in subscription revenues alone.

Glam Media runs its own network of content sites, originally targeted at women, but now broader, with a combined reach of 200 million monthly unique visitors. After taking out duplication, the Ning acquisition should push Glam’s audience count up to about 240 million monthly uniques. Glam also has its own brand-friendly ad network to sell ads against that audience, and a content management platform. Now with Ning it has a social platform as well.

Glam will now be able to incorporate social features into its content platform. With Ning it gets the equivalent of a blogging platform, commenting platform, and social feeds platform all rolled into one. Glam should be able to do a better job selling ad inventory against the visitors to Ning-powered sites.

Company: Ning
Website: ning.com
Funding: $119M

Ning is the world’s largest platform to create powerful, custom social websites. Top organizers, marketers, influencers, and activists use Ning to create a social destination where content intersects with conversations to inspire action. Every social website comes with out-of-the-box social integration, community features, point-and-click design tools, and turnkey monetization solutions that are easy to use. In October 2010, Ning announced the launch of Ning Everywhere. It offers unparalleled flexibility for Ning Creators and third party developers to create mobile apps,...

Learn more
Company: Glam Media
Website: glammedia.com
Launch Date: January 9, 2003
Funding: $175M

Glam Media is a vertical media company, comprised of both Glam-owned-and-operated properties (Glam.com, Brash.com, and soon, Bliss.com) and a publisher network of 2000+ lifestyle websites and blogs. Glam Media’s vertical media model aims to enable premium brands to connect with audiences online. Glam Media is #1 in global reach for women online, with approximately 90 million unique monthly visitors in the US and more than 200 million uniques globally. Glam Media is a comScore Top 10 U.S. Web Property, is...

Learn more

MyHeritage.com Acquires Family Tree Backup Service BackupMyTree


MyHeritage.com, a relatively heavily-funded Israeli startup operating a huge family-based social network, this morning announced that it has acquired BackupMyTree, which enables people to automatically backup their family history for free.

This is the sixth acquisition by MyHeritage.com – recent purchases include Germany’s OSN , Poland’s Bliscy.pl and Dutch Family Network ZOOOF.

One year after launching, BackupMyTree’s backup service is said to protect over 9 TB of family tree data off-site, uploaded by genealogists and family history enthusiasts.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but don’t expect this to be a huge deal: the BackupMyTree team is promptly moving on to a new venture dubbed Mocavo, a free genealogy search engine.

Coincidentally, BackupMyTree is the second company that MyHeritage.com has purchased from entrepreneur Cliff Shaw, having acquired Pearl Street Software, makers of GenCircles.com and Family Tree Legends, back in 2007.

MyHeritage.com, which boasts an international registered member base of 60 million users and offers its services in 38 languages, says it will continue to maintain the service and keep it free. The company says its is now home to more than 800 million profiles and 20 million family trees.

MyHeritage.com is backed by Index Ventures and Accel Partners.

Company: MyHeritage.com
Website: myheritage.com
Funding: $24M

MyHeritage.com is a family social network. The site offers a private home on the web for exploring family history and keeping in touch. It allows users to create their own family website, share pictures and videos, organize family events, create family trees and discover ancestors and long-lost relatives. The MyHeritage system contained 58 million members and more than 792 million online profiles as of August 2011. There are also more than 19 million family trees and 120 million photos...

Learn more