Ex-GE CEO Jeff Immelt has taken the chairman’s chair at Athenahealth, moving in to help CEO Jonathan Bush fend off activist Elliott Management and drive digital transformation in health care. Athena has a cloud-based online platform that helps doctors and hospitals manage patient data, and has a market cap of about $5.4 billion.
I talked with Immelt shortly before the announcement was made this week, and asked him why he was doing it.
“I spent twenty years in healthcare at GE. I have a passion for the industry,” he said. “Athena has a chance to be one of the most significant platforms in the industry.”
He also said he wanted to work with a founder—comparing Bush to the likes of FedEx’s Fred Smith and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. For his part, Bush said he “needs a really good coach,” and said Immelt “knows health care and knows digitization at massive scale.”
Immelt’s main gig these days is as a partner at investment firm New Enterprise Associates. Since he left GE, that company has been in near-meltdown, with a market cap roughly half what it was a year ago.
Athena, meanwhile, has been struggling to pull doctors and hospitals into the digital age—no simple task. “We didn’t cure cancer last year,” says Bush—a cousin of former president George W., and brother of TV host Billy—“but we did figure out how to read seven million faxes.”
U.S. Senate leaders have unveiled a two-year budget deal that, if it passes the House, may avert a government shutdown at the end of this week. The deal would provide $300 billion more for military and non-defense spending and $80 billion more for disaster relief over that period. The big question now is how House Democrats will take it, as they don’t want to raise budget caps without assured protections for “dreamers.” CNN
Softbank and Swiss Re
SoftBank is reportedly in talks to buy up to a third of the shares in the Zurich-based reinsurer Swiss Re. If the deal goes through, it would give the Japanese conglomerate a new string to add to its bow, alongside telecommunications, e-commerce, driverless cars and virtual reality. Swiss Re’s shares jumped more than 9% on the news. Wall Street Journal
Chinese Domestic Demand
China released January figures Thursday that showed a 36.9% increase in imports and an 11.1% boost in exports, both in dollar terms. Its trade surplus was $20.34 billion, far below economists’ expectations of $54.1 billion. China’s trade surplus with the U.S. for the month was $21.90 billion, down from $25.55 billion in December. CNBC
Tesla on Target
Tesla is sticking with its revised production targets for the Model 3—good news for investors who are fed up with delays. The big problem has been battery production, but Elon Musk told investors those issues were diminishing and Tesla is on track to be pumping out 5,000 cars a week by the end of the second quarter. Tesla burned through $787 million in the fourth quarter of last year and said capital spending would be higher this year. Reuters
Around the Water Cooler
Russia Hacked U.S. Voter Rolls
The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity chief has warned that Russian government hackers successfully penetrated voter registration rolls in several U.S. states ahead of the 2016 election. Jeanette Manfra said the Russians scanned and probed the databases, but there was no evidence that they changed anything. NBC News
Steve Wynn Payout
Steve Wynn’s resignation from his eponymous casino firm, due to a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations (which he denies), might come with a $330 million payout. Wynn’s employment agreement with Wynn Resorts allows for a huge severance payout—as it extends through to 2022, he could walk away with three times his annual salary and bonus for the next four years. Fortune
R.I.P. John Perry Barlow
John Perry Barlow, the technological utopian who penned the seminal “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” has died in his sleep at the age of 70. Barlow co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the world’s biggest digital civil liberties organization and was also notable as a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. His passing comes at a time when the debate over tech’s true nature has spilled over into the mainstream. EFF
Daimler’s Dalai Lama Apology
Germany’s Daimler has profusely apologized to China after its Mercedes-Benz subsidiary published an Instagram post on Monday that included a quote from the Dalai Lama (“Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.”) Even though Instagram is blocked in China, people shared the image there. Daimler said it would offer “no support, assistance, aid or help to anyone who intentionally subverts or attempts to subvert China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” BBC