Fortune, as I’ve mentioned recently, has the benefit of a good name, one we’ve had for 87 years. So when we have a conference on the confluence of medicine and technology, as we did in San Diego this week, it’s an opportunity to talk about how that exciting business is being financed.
Wednesday morning at Brainstorm Health I hosted a vibrant roundtable discussion that asked where the smart money is going in healthcare IT and related fields. I have followed this topic only a little over the years as it never has been a core focus of investors in information technology, my area of coverage. Those investors are veering out of their lanes and into healthcare of late, in part because of the massive opportunity—regardless of what happens in Washington.
Curiosity isn’t always a good thing for investors. Ted Maidenberg, a venture capitalist with the newish firm Social Capital has been dabbling in medical investments. He astutely sees parallels with another tangent he and has peers followed a decade ago: “clean” technology, which I always insisted on calling by its proper name, alternative energy. Both fields, notes Maidenberg, are not totally economically sound, benefit from government subsidies, suffer from a surplus of hype, and tend toward the experimental rather than the commercial.
Maidenberg sees a silver lining in the potential demise of “Obamacare.” A lessening regulatory tailwind tends to force startups to sink or swim on their own merits, “which is fine by us,” he says.
For more on this financing panel, Fortune’s Erika Fry has a slightly more expansive take than mine here. Our voluminous coverage of the conference reflects the depth and breadth of the event. I particularly recommend this sobering interview with Mark Bertolini, CEO of insurer Aetna, and this inspirational session with Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi and the heroic Nahid Bhadelia of the Boston University School of Medicine.
If you see a parade going by. Apple CEO Tim Cook is trying to get out in front of the “made in America” push emanating from the White House. Although almost all of Apple’s products are made outside of the U.S., Cook pledged to establish a $1 billion fund that will try to create more domestic jobs in advanced manufacturing. “We can be the ripple in the pond,” Cook said in an interview on CNBC.
Meanwhile in another part of the city. Speaking of not made in the USA, Apple’s legal feud with Qualcomm continues to escalate. As all iPhones are manufactured in Asia and imported into the United States, Qualcomm may seek to have those imports blocked. The International Trade Commission can move more quickly than the regular court system in this area.
Not most favored. Amazon finally settled with the European Union over charges that its ebook contracts with publishers harmed competition. The online giant agreed to drop so-called most favored nation clauses that required e-book publishers to give Amazon the best prices and sales terms they granted to any other seller.
Don’t get scammed. A dangerously convincing email is making the rounds, luring unsuspecting recipients into granting access to their entire Gmail account to hackers. Google is moving to shut down the scam and adding warning messages. But security experts also suggest turning on Gmail’s two-factor authentication, making it almost impossible for a hacker to crack an account with just the password.
Dollars and sense. In the quarterly earnings area, Facebook wowed with 49% revenue growth and a 77% jump in profits. But investors focused on the future and Facebook warned that advertising growth will slow this year. Facebook also disclosed plans to hire 3,000 human beings who will try to take down inappropriate content, like suicide videos, more quickly. Payments startup Square showed a narrowing loss as gross payments volume—the amount of money consumers are spending through its network—soared 33%. Tesla more than doubled its revenue to $2.7 billion. But the real attention is focused on the upcoming Model 3, which is on schedule for production starting in July, CEO Elon Musk said.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Apple’s brilliantly innovative iPhone sparked the smartphone revolution and the vast app economy that followed. But Apple tends to do what’s best for Apple, not necessarily what’s best for everyone in its ecosystem.
In a provocative essay about Apple’s app store policies, writer and former software engineer Matt Gemmell argues that the company is doing serious harm to app developers.
“No company has done as much damage to the perceived value of software, and the sustainability of being an independent developer, as Apple,” he writes. “Not that other companies wouldn’t have done the same thing — they would have. It’s just that Apple was the successful one.”
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