CEO Daily: Friday, 11th August
I spent some time yesterday at Oscar Health – a tech-enabled health insurance company that has gotten ink lately because one of its founders was Josh Kushner – brother of Jared. The name – Oscar – comes from the Kushners’ great-grandfather.
But what makes Oscar truly notable is its customer-centric business model. Oscar is one of those companies that gained venture backing and a tech-like valuation ($2.6 billion) by doing old things in a new way – kind of like WeWork (real estate) or Blue Apron (groceries). While most big health insurance companies focus on employers, who pay the bills, and providers, who charge for their services, Oscar starts with the customer. Traditional insurance companies, says CEO Mario Schlosser, “don’t think about the customer relationship.”
Also distinguishing Oscar is its smart use of data. A data geek who previously worked at hedge fund Bridgewater, Schlosser recognized that insurance companies have unique access to health care data, but generally use it only for billing purposes. Oscar exposes that data to customers, creating a beautiful app that allows people to track doctor visits, drug purchases, and lab work. It also gives access to telemedicine services 24-7, and helps find doctors and book appointments.
In that sense, Oscar is a model for all other companies navigating their way through the new industrial revolution. It is distinguished not so much by its technology, but by how that technology enables a completely new way of doing business.
The company currently covers 90,000 people, with policies sold mostly through the Affordable Care Act, in New York, Texas and California. But it is expanding to three new states next year. It opened Oscar for Business in April, and recently partnered with Humana to offer health plans to small businesses. Traditional insurers should pay heed.
More news below. And if you want to follow the disruption in health care more closely, be sure to subscribe to Fortune Brainstorm Health, here.
Enjoy the weekend.
• Benchmark Piles the Pressure on Uber
Benchmark Capital, one of Uber’s earliest investors and a prime mover behind the ouster of CEO Travis Kalanick, has sued to eject him from the board. Benchmark alleges Kalanick defrauded directors by concealing the company’s corporate governance problems from them as he moved to expand the board from 8 seats to 11 last year. That move cemented management control over the company. Uber said the suit was groundless. In other news, Uber’s head of global operations Ryan Graves, the company’s first-ever hire, is stepping down to focus on his role as an Uber director. Fortune
• Stocks Slump Again on North Korea Concerns
President Donald Trump renewed his rhetorical attacks on North Korea, saying that his ‘fire and fury’ warning perhaps hadn’t been strong enough. Stock markets extended recent losses, reaffirming a recent trend that has seen bigger reactions to negative news than to positive. To illustrate: during the latest earnings season, stocks have companies that beat expectations have risen far less than those that missed have fallen. In a contributed column on Fortune’s Insiders section, Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi lays out the case for a market correction. Fortune
• Macy’s Can’t Stop Sliding
A fine example of the abovementioned trend is Macy’s. It posted a 2.8% annual drop in comparable sales in the three months to June (its 10th straight quarterly decline), better than consensus forecasts, but its shares still fell another 10%. The lack of progress on selling real estate to shore up its balance sheet was widely cited as a factor. CFO Karen Houguet also reiterated the problems of its beauty business, while indicating that it hasn’t found the recipe for turning it round yet. Fortune
• Spiegel Spins as Snap Spirals
Snap’s shares are set to open some 14% lower at a new record low after it reported that its quarterly loss nearly quadrupled and said increasing competition from Facebook hit user growth. Revenue rose to $%182 million from $72 million a year earlier, but the net loss hit an eye-watering $443 million, up from $116 million. CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel tried to cheer investors up by reminding them that slower user growth meant lower Cloud data storage bills in the short term. He didn’t succeed. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
• Betsy Duke Backed to Restore Wells Fargo’s Reputation
Stephen Sanger will step down as chairman of Wells Fargo next month, making way for board member Elizabeth Duke to take over, according to The Wall Street Journal. Duke, a community banker who rose to become a Federal Reserve governor, is seen as having the best credentials to restore the bank’s image as a no-nonsense retail and business lender. A large minority of shareholders at Wells’ annual meeting had voted in April to eject Sanger, arguing that he should take responsibility for the board’s failure to police executive management at the bank. Reuters
• Google Caught in the Culture Wars
Google cancelled an all-hands town hall meeting on gender issues Thursday just before it was scheduled to begin, citing safety concerns. Questions from employees for CEO Sundar Pichai were reportedly leaked, exposing the people asking them to the hostility of alt-right groups. It has been the Right’s turn to crank up the online outrage machine since engineer James Damore was fired for his notorious memo on diversity: Breitbart (which has its own advertising-related grudge against the company) is running what it says will be a series of anonymous interviews with disaffected employees supporting Damore. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reported CEO Sundar Pichai as saying in an email that the great majority of staff who had offered feedback had supported management’s decision. Fortune
• Blackstone and Starwood Waypoint’s New Home Rental Giant
Invitation Homes and Starwood Waypoint are to merge in a move that will create a housing rental giant with 82,000 family homes and an enterprise value of $20 billion. Invitation Homes, which is 70% owned by Blackstone, will have 59% of the combined company after the all-share merger. The merger is an experiment in institutional ownership of rental homes, a market dominated by individual landlords. The bulk of its portfolio is located on the West Coast and in Florida, and was snapped up at distressed prices during the foreclosure crisis after 2007. FT, metered access
• Your Weekend Will Be Better Than This Guy’s
This slot had initially been reserved for chipmaker NVidia, another company whose stock slid on Thursday for the curious reason that it failed to beat consensus forecasts by as much as it normally does (sic). However, it’s August and it’s Friday and there’s only so much negativity we can inflict on you. So we offer this more seasonal contribution instead: The Suffolk Gazette in England reports that a man sunbathing naked in his yard has lost a testicle to a marauding seagull. The seagull apparently mistook the delicacy for a bird’s egg. The moral is clear – always be sure to have a more identifiable seagull snack (like that portion of fish and chips you didn’t finish) clearly displayed in a more prominent position before dozing off. Suffolk Gazette
We incorrectly said in Thursday's CEO Daily that Fargo airs on Netflix. While this is true outside the U.S., it is of course FX that airs the show in the home market.
Summaries by Geoffrey Smith email@example.com