You don’t need a medical degree to see that health tech is hot right now.
Amazon’s $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, a network of primary-care clinics, made it clear that technology companies have big plans to transform the healthcare industry. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has two separate subsidiaries (Verily and Calico) developing tools and treatments to fight diseases and aging.
And the Apple Watch on your wrist is packed with health-focused features including heart and sleep tracking, medication management, and, as of this month, a body temperature sensor to help women track ovulation cycles.
The next generation of breakthroughs are sure to be even more consequential, as startups harness cloud computing, A.I., and ever tinier chips to dream up new products and services.
For the venture capital investors who specialize in health tech, the era of startup innovation is spurring a frenzy of activity. The number of VC investments in health tech has increased significantly in both size of valuations and number of deals in the past five years, and some large VC firms are rolling out special funds devoted exclusively to health tech. In 2018, health tech VC deals raised $21.3 billion over 2,249 deals. In 2021, deal values totaled $50 billion across 3,315 health tech deals.
Fortune surveyed the field of health tech venture investors to pick out some of the top dealmakers in the sector. The eleven investors below are among the most active in Pitchbook’s database of the largest health tech funding deals over the past five years. The investors represent a range of organizations, from large, general purpose VC firms like Andreessen Horowitz, to specialized, health tech-focused boutiques like Arch Venture Partners and Oak HC/FT.
Read on to meet the VC investors with their fingers on the pulse of the health tech industry.
Hemant Taneja, General Catalyst
Home base: Bay Area, California
Big deals: Livingo; Commure, Ro Health
To say that Taneja is the VC who wrote the book on health tech is no exaggeration — he’s co-authored three books about his vision for healthcare as accessible, proactive, and affordable. As the strategist behind some of General Catalyst’s most successful investments to date, Taneja has put his healthcare philosophy to work. His early bet on Livongo, a digital health startup, turned into the biggest exit in health tech in history after the company was acquired by Teledoc for $18.5 billion in 2020.
Taneja describes Livongo’s success as a “catalyzing event” in the industry. “There’s many founders and entrepreneurs that got inspired to build companies that follow Livongo’s model.” He is also an investor in Commure, Ro, and Transcarent. Taneja recently became the CEO of General Catalyst, a role so recent it’s not listed on their website yet, but comes after he has increasingly spearheaded the firm’s investment plans. “It’s a phenomenal time to get into building companies in the healthcare sector,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to shape what the next generation of healthcare systems is going to look like.”
Vijay Pande, Andreessen Horowitz
Home base: Menlo Park, California
Big deals: Devoted Health (led $300 million series B), Insitro, Freenome
When Pande joined Andreessen Horowitz in 2014 with the bespoke title “Professor in Residence,” the then five year old venture capital firm was wary of healthcare investing. But after spotting some startups he was excited about, Pande convinced firm co-founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz to “go big into the space.” In 2015, a16z, as the firm is often referred to, launched its first $200 million Bio fund with Pande at the helm. The exponential growth of each fund since then speaks for itself; a16z is now on its fourth — a $1.6 billion fund. Pande led the $300 million series B funding round into Devoted Health, a digital health startup focused on Medicare beneficiaries. The 2018 investment was one of the largest to date in the sector, and Pande credits the strength of the startup’s founding team and its unique business model. Among Pande’s other big hits are investments in Freenome and Insitro.
Ameena El-Bibany, Artis Ventures
Home base: San Francisco, California
Big deals: Precision Nanosystems, Loop Genomics, Apama Medical
El-Bibany describes her role in health tech venture capital as “bridging the gap between academia and industry.” It’s a task she’s ideally suited for. Having focused her research on stem cell engineering, microbiome research, and DNA damage and repair as a student, El-Bibany got sidetracked from her goal of pursuing a Phd when an opportunity arose to join Rising Tide VC in 2014. She built the firm’s entire health tech and biotech practice. From there, she was hooked on investing.
Her first investment ever was in Precision Nanoystems, which was acquired by Danaher Life Sciences last year. Other key investments she has made are in Loop Genomics which was acquired by Element Biosciences and Apama Medical, which was acquired by Boston Scientific. El-Bibany doesn’t view her wins as only financial successes, and cites advances in healthcare as a driving motivation. Her advice to startups? Start with the problem, not the solution. “Oftentimes, we see interesting technology that is built and then teams search for a problem to solve it with,” she explained. “Other times, we see teams that have very well characterized the problem at hand, and then build a technological solution to fix it. I usually encourage teams to do the latter,” El-Bibany says.
Annie Lamont, OAK HC/FT
Home base: Connecticut
Big deals: Athenahealth, VillageMD, Devoted Health
When Lamont got into venture capital in the 1980s, the health tech investing field as we know it did not exist. “There was no one else that was focusing on [healthcare],” she says. “So I made that sort of my expertise and practice.” As a pioneer in the sector, Lamont has set a high bar for those who have followed, with more than thirty investments in some of the most highly valued health tech companies to date. The VC firm that Lamont started in 2014, Oak HC/FT, was the lead investor in VillageMD, which now has a $14.3 billion valuation. Lamont was also an early investor in Athenahealth and the biggest investor at the time of Athenahealth’s IPO; the company sold last year for $17 billion. She was also an early investor in Devoted Health, Aspire Health, which was acquired by Anthem, and OncoHealth which was acquired by Arsenal Capital Partners.
Lamont says the most important factor in a startup’s success is the people. “It’s really about the resourcefulness, relentlessness, and the talent of the CEO and then the team,” she says. And decades after helping spark investor interest in the sector, Lamont is more optimistic than ever: “Now we have multi-generations of entrepreneurs who’ve grown up in healthcare and understand it better and are creating better models that will have more impact on the true costs and quality of healthcare.”
Helmy Eltoukhy, Green Sands Equity
Home base: San Francisco, California
Big deals: Synchron, Encoded
A two-time startup founder, scientist, and electrical engineer, Eltoukhy brings a rich breadth of experience to his role as the head of life science investments at Green Sands Equity. In his twenties, Eltoukhy built a startup that merged semiconductor technology with DNA sequencing, selling it a few years later to Illumina. He eventually parlayed his experience to backing other entrepreneurs. “There was a dearth of investors in the healthcare side that had experience of founding companies from the idea stage and taking them all the way to an exit or IPO and into a standard of care,” he says.
He was an early investor in Synchron, a company conducting the first brain computer interface and Encoded, a therapeutics company that uses genetic engineering. Eltoukhy says success in health tech comes from not only having a great idea, but from an idea that matches the moment. “In healthcare, timing is everything because the timelines are so long,” he explained. “Some things that sound like great ideas may be too early to develop because of regulatory hurdles or technology that is too early to develop, so it’s important to understand where a field is about to take off and investing at the right time,” he says.
Robert Nelsen, ARCH Venture Partners
Home base: San Francisco, California
Big deals: Altos Labs, Resilience
With an astonishing track record of prescient investments, and a flair for making big, sometimes controversial, pronouncements, Nelsen is a unique figure within the world of health tech tech. Of the more than 150 companies he has been involved with, 48 have reached valuations above $1 billion. His philosophy, he told Geekwire in 2016, is “to bet on great science, take risks with risk takers, tackle big problems, and to ignore convention.”
As Managing Director and co-founder of ACH Venture Partners, Nelsen focuses on health tech and pharmaceutical investments. He led the series B, C and D funding rounds in Resilience, a biomanufacturing startup that aims to speed up deployment of vaccines and other medicines. He was also an early investor in Juno Therapeutics which was acquired by Celgene and Array BioPharma which was acquired by Pfizer. In March 2022, ARCH closed a $2.5 billion fund in biotechnology investments.
Beth Seidenberg, Westlake BioPartners
Home base: Los Angeles, California
Big deals: Livingo, Flexus, Progeny
Seidenberg has seen healthcare from every angle— a physician, then executive, and now investor with over 40 investments in health tech. Seidenberg looks for companies that can “see around the corner”. She was an early investor in Livongo Health, which was acquired by Teledoc in an $18.5 billion deal. She was also an early investor in ARMO Biosciences, Flexus Biosciences, and True North Therapeutics. She helped incubate Progyny, one of the first fertility technology companies to ever go public. She believes a team’s grit is just as important as a standout idea: “The most important thing that makes or breaks these companies ends up being the people, you can have a great idea and the wrong team, and you won’t have a great outcome,” she says.
Peter Singlehurst, Baillie Gifford
Home base: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Big deals: Honor, Tempus, Denali Therapeutics
Singlehurst stands out on this list as a generalist investor, but he views that as a strength, not a weakness when it comes to healthcare investing. “There seems to be a general consensus that specialist investors do health care, and non-specialist investors can’t do everything else. We don’t believe that’s true,” he explained. As the head of private investments at Baillie Gifford, Singlehurst’s team has led the firm’s investments in startups Tempus and Honor—some of the biggest health tech deals to date. Singlehurst joined Baillie Gifford’s graduate training program after finishing a master’s degree in 20th century philosophy in 2010. At the time, the firm was only investing in public companies. Singlehurst helped spearhead the company’s efforts to start investing in companies at their earliest stages, a division of Baillie Gifford that has since invested about $10 billion across over 100 businesses globally.
Krishna Yeshwant, Google Ventures
Home base: Boston, Massachussets
Big deals: Oscar, One Medical, Beam Therapeutics
Before he was a healthcare investor and a doctor, Yeshwant was a computer scientist. His interest in health tech was piqued after he helped a group of surgeons build medical software in 2002. Like many investors who helped build the health tech investing field, Yeshwant saw an opportunity to merge tech entrepreneurship with medical treatments. He helped found GV’s incubation program, which has built companies such as Verve Therapeutics and Flatiron Health. “Science is breaking open to benefit patients and we’re still at the early innings of new advances in gene editing and base editing,” Yeshwant says. At GV, where he co-leads its life sciences group, Yeshwant’s portfolio includes more than fifty investments such as Beam Therapeutics, Oscar health and One Medical.
Bijan Salehizadeh, NaviMed Capital
Home base: Washington D.C.
Big deals: Auris, Velocity Clinical Research
Salehizadeh was the first seed investor in surgical robotics company Auris, which was sold to Johnson and Johnson in 2019 for $5.7 billion. A longtime partner at Highland Capital, he struck off on his own several years ago to found NaviMed Capital, which focuses on growth buyouts in the health tech space. Trained as a doctor before he pursued a career on the business side of healthcare, Salehizadeh has said that he is skeptical of tech entrepreneurs with no healthcare experience who think they can “disrupt” the highly regulated industry. With NaviMed, he helped build Velocity Clinical Research, a firm that consolidates clinical trial sites, which was bought by GHO Capital last year.
Sofia Guerra, Bessemer Venture Partners
Home base: Boston, Massachusetts
Big deals: Oshi Health, House Rx, Turquoise Health
Guerra told me that her investments are still in their early stages, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to spot a winner. Her investments with Bessemer Venture Partners include the firm’s leading investment in House Rx’s Series A fundraising round. Before joining Bessemer, Guerra was an investor at BoxGroup Ventures. She is also the co-founder of Nucleate Bio, an entrepreneurship program that helps postdoctorate students and PhDs bring scientific projects to the commercial market. Guerra says that a founder’s drive and mission captures her attention. “I’m particularly excited to meet founders who have been outsiders or underdogs and have worked incredibly hard to turn those odds around,” she explains. “We are just in inning three of health tech so there is so much that we need to do to reverse the trends in rising healthcare costs and poor outcomes,” she added.
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