Saks Snacks #9: WHOOP's Recent Moves | Tik Tok's Algo: a fit for health tech? | Calibrate | Purkinje Effect
Sleep Fitness Push Continues | Value-based care | Investment in Vera Whole Health | Purkinje Effect | Pods on Sleep Science and Gut Microbiome Health
Hello amigos from s Ventura Beach, CA👋 ,
Happy Sunday! Let’s get to it, starting off with 4 quick health tech snacks before covering emerging health tech events in more detail.
🥑 Snacks of the Week - 4 reads across wearables, sleep tech, & batteries
📡 Capital Raise Radar - analyzing 2 recent raises (WHOOP & Calibrate)
🏥 Healthcare - JP Morgan’s investment in Vera Whole Health
💡 Big Ideas - The power of Tik Tok’s algorithm & early traction for pay-for-fitness startup
🎙️ Pods of the Week x 3: Gut Microbiome health, sleep science, and sleep technology
💥 Spark Moment of the Week - Big Sur & Purkinje Effect
🥑 Snacks of the week (3)
1. WHOOP there it is. WHOOP raised another $200M in funding, acquired PUSH, and announced a new strap (4.0) that measures skin temperature, blood oxygen levels, and features haptic alarms. (full write-up in Capital Raise Radar)
#2: Longevity: Altos Labs, a new “rejuvenation startup” backed by Jeff Bezos, Yuri Milner, and others, is pursuing biological reprogramming tech, a “way to rejuvenate cells that some scientists believe could be extended to revitalize entire animal bodies, eventually extending human life.”
#3: Sleep fitness: Eight Sleep Raises $86M to further its smart mattresses and mattress covers that use its AI-based algorithms and machine learning. It primarily relies on thermoregulation and other physical parameters (listen more in Pod of the week)
#4: Battery innovation: "One small new battery, one giant leap for our energy future - big news in battery tech. Read about the market launch of Sila’s next-gen silicon anode battery technology that fuels the new WHOOP strap.
📡 Capital Raise Radar x2: Whoop & Calibrate
#1:WHOOP, Boston-based human performance company Raises $200M in Series F Funding at $3.6 Billion Valuation For those keeping track, WHOOP 3x’d their value in the last 10 months, after raising $100M at a $1.2B valuation in October 2020.
I remain bullish on WHOOP and what Will Ahmed has been building, and here’s why I think their recent raise & early acquisition solidifies this.
Their raise will help expand hiring across engineering, data science, and analytics, expand internationally, and acquire leading tech companies to uplevel their membership offering.
WHOOP quickly announced its acquisition of PUSH, the velocity-based training platform with sensors that help quantify weightlifting metrics. This allows WHOOP to gain the intellectual property + algorithms that capture these metrics in relation to exercises performed by its users.
Currently, WHOOP is geared primarily for cardio-based exercises. The additional measurements will help WHOOP address its current shortcomings and add more value for its weightlifting and functional fitness userbase. I expect WHOOP to incorporate PUSH’s data appropriately to quantify users’ actual work output which adds more data for the users to maximize training efforts.
In addition to WHOOP improving its value for weightlifters & functional fitness users, it can improve its effectiveness by building community in the app and helping its users understand their data to make meaningful adjustments. They recently rolled out a product update with chat functionality for “groups” users can join, but their community efforts are just scratching the surface.
#2: Digital metabolic health company Calibrate landed $100M in Series B funding co-led by Founders Fund and Tiger Global Management.
Another week, another digital health “startup” hoping to improve the metabolic health epidemic with a new wave of funding. A bit about the business:
Calibrate focuses on metabolic health through its one-year, weight loss reset program that includes FDA-approved medication, doctor visits and app-based coaching and curriculum.
Calibrate takes a long-term, holistic approach to weight loss. The metabolic assessment alone is $249, and the year-long “metabolic reset” program is $129/month. While pricy, Calibrate member’s results speak for themselves.
With the weight loss goal of 10%, results have shown Calibrate members report an average annual body weight loss of 14%.
Calibrate has grown rapidly due to consumer concerns about their underlying health as well as the rapid adoption of telemedicine, as the pandemic compressed ~10 years of telemedicine / virtual care adoption into 6 months.
This accelerated fundraising timeline is in line with digital health trends, as digital health ventures have been raising larger rounds sooner than in the past.
I’ll follow up with how Calibrate’s proprietary integrated “vertical pharmacy engine” helps deliver results with its recently expanded consumer access to newly approved FDA medications, like Nordisk’s Wegovy.
Morgan Health Makes $50 Million Investment in Vera Whole Health
This is an interesting first investment from Morgan Health (JPMorgan Chase & Co business), signaling a focus on improving health equity outcomes for all JP Morgan employees and 150M Americans with employer-sponsored healthcare.
In short, Vera partners with employers, delivering “advanced primary care” through an integrated team of primary care physicians, nurses, and health coaches through clinics that are typically close to workspaces.
About Vera: Vera Whole Health is leading the critical shift to value-based care across the United States. Vera is the only care model with the capability to deliver whole system health to a diverse patient population from a single care center. The Vera model is uniquely designed to help people achieve optimum social, psychological, and physical well-being – an outcome that's neither probable nor affordable within the current sick-care system. Vera is the only primary care organization to receive two validations from the Validation Institute for population health outcomes and cost management.
Its business model relies on Advanced Primary Care (APC), which is a “revolutionary” model developed by Vera Whole Health in 2012, proving out its effectiveness since implementing it across its care delivery network in 2019.
APC is only possible “if providers, payers, and employers agree to align around health outcomes rather than volume-based fee-for-service.”
When APC is structured with incentives aligned to improve health instead of drive volume, care teams practicing in an APC model can measurably improve the health of their patient population while dramatically reducing the total cost of care.
I expect to see similar primary care models curated for employees through improved primary care models, and Vera Health is pioneering a shift in the way that healthcare is delivered. So far, employers under contract with Vera have observed a 10% to 25% reduction in total healthcare costs and high NPS scores of 90, which are promising.
“We believe these types of new and innovative value-based care platforms will enhance delivery quality and outcomes and strengthen physician alignment.”
This is Morgan Health’s first step to begin scaling a coordinated care model. There is tremendous innovation in many coordinated care models and Morgan Health will look at a number of models to improve employee health and scale those models both for JP Morgan Chase and other employers and employees throughout the country.
💡 Big Ideas - Tik Tok’s Algorithm - what makes it so powerful? What’s its role for Health Tech?
Cadoo, a pay-for-fitness business we explored in Edition 7, drove explosive growth with a recent TikTok, reminding me once again of the power of its algorithm.
Pay-for-fitness hasn’t yet caught on at scale, but the segment holds promise, especially considering the explosive success of play-to-earn models in industries like gaming.
What makes TikTok particularly powerful?
TikTok has harnessed attention to a degree that’s beyond addiction through its AI. Brian Roemmelle has even called it a “dark hole that is designed to drag you deeper”. Here’s more on how its algo works.
How does this relate to health tech?
I expect unique, emerging health tech business models, and businesses that require longer educational cycles to invest in more short-form content creation showcasing the app/program/offering’s functionality, design, etc.
It makes sense that resource-constraint businesses haven’t taken this seriously thus far, but I expect more of these similar examples and case studies to emerge and companies allocate resources to test into detailed TikTok content strategies.
🎙️ Pods of the Week - a few of this week’s listens
Dr. Matthew Walker: The Science & Practice of Perfecting Your Sleep. This goes deep on sleep, is a bit technical, but very informative for those interested.
Time in bed ≠ Time asleep: A healthy “sleep efficiency” is 85%, meaning 85% of the time spent in bed is time you’re actually asleep. Even if you spend 8.5 hours in bed, with normal sleep efficiency, you’re only spending around 7.5-7.75 hours in bed.
“Sleep is the single most effective thing to reset your brain and body”
Matteo Franceschetti, CEO of Eight Sleep, the smart mattress company discuss modernizing sleep, which biometrics matter, and discusses a few interesting points on its business strategy
Compression of sleep: Matteo is most excited by the compression of sleep - Eight Sleep users are “already falling asleep faster so they’re getting time back” thanks to the mattress’s thermoregulatory properties.
Compounding data advantages: There are compounding data advantages that result from being early in this space. Eight Sleep and other early entrants can continually improve their product and sleep algorithms, passing along more value to its users.
Business model nuances: Eight Sleep has been able to turn infrequent purchases into frequent purchases by continually improving the product itself. A large % of its revenue comes from its userbase
Hustling for Twitter Distribution: Matteo does an excellent job building the brand and acquiring customers via Twitter. Especially when your core customer base is in the tech space, Twitter is a great place to engage organically. I strongly disagree with the Growth hackers that say it’s not the right place.
Jonathan Wolf, the co-founder and CEO of ZOE (personalized nutrition company) discusses the gut microbiome, at-home test kits, and how their product helps people understand the impact of nutrition on well-being.
Learn more about the gut microbiome, how your own body responds to food based on personalized tests, AI, and the largest nutritional study in the world
💥 Spark Moment of the Week
This weekend I road-tripped down the California coast and spent some time exploring the Pfeiffer Big Sur campground.
The bright colors from this forest shot made me think of one of my daily moments from 2 and a half months ago when I went on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner with my dad. I’d recently gotten into running and explained that a set of trees were my favorite to run by because of their bright coloring.
Unexpectedly, he brought me back to the late 1970s when he was a student at UVA, and shared a concept/phenomenon called the Purkinje effect that struck with him from a Biopsychology class taught by Dr. Raymond Bice. Similar to my comments, he explained that he had a newfound appreciation for the Rotunda lawn after understanding why it looked especially beautiful as the sun is setting and light is dimming.
6.25.21 Daily Moments Entry: Learned about the Purkinje shift on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner with Dad. He learned it in a bio psychology class- went to rotunda lawn and remembered thinking, wow it's really brilliantly green. This is due to peak luminance sensititvy of the eye shifts to the blue end of the color spectrum - related to dark adaptation and rod-cone output in the retina
It blew my mind that an abstract concept from a biopsychology class could be retained after a long time period. While I failed to explain how the phenomenon works to my friends in Big Sur, I was still glad to have written it down.
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