Think3 – $1B Fund for SaaS Founders who want to move onto next project

What happens when the SaaS company you started has grown beyond startup phase and your ready to go do your next startup.  If your company has been successful – but is not going to end up being a unicorn or doesn’t have an obvious strategic buyer – sometimes you can stall for years.  There are a ton of my fellow founders who end up in this state.  As posted last week on TechCrunch here – the team at Think3 has $1B and perhaps more importantly – are actual software operating people who will provide you with a fair exit that enables you to take on your next project knowing that what you built will continue in good hands.  If you are interested ping Andy Tryba @ Think3 –

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Twine Health acquired by Fitbit

Twine Health has been acquired by Fitbit.  As a user, investor & Founding BOD Member @ Twine Health I’m thrilled about the potential of this deal for patients.

The mission at Twine is powerful and the impact of Twine @ scale could be transformational.  I was one of the first users of Twine and – as posted here – Twine enabled me to reduce my A1C by 7.1 in less than 4 months.  The Twine Health team should be able to bring dramatic health benefits to the Fitbit user community.  John Moore, Scott Gilroy & Frank Moss have great partners over the past 5 years – it’s been an honor to be part of such a great team.

Following the lead of leaders like Eric Topol, MD and Dave Chase – I believe that the time is right for a significant change in healthcare.  We can dramatically improve outcomes and reduce cost if we embrace the patient as consumer and information liquidity as the key lever.

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LZR in Austin is AWESOME!

Had a chance to swing by LZR – the rebranded event space formerly the music venue La Zona Rosa – reference article here.

John Price has done an incredible job of building the type of space and community that creates great startups.  Not only is the space cool, comfortable and flexible – but the diversity of the people & interests is inspirational.  I think I know where I’ll be hanging out during the day now that Amy and I have a pied-à- in downtown Austin just a few blocks from LZR.

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Kinsa – 10M+ real temperature readings to deliver world’s best real-time flu tracking

Lots of people (including myself) talk about the potential impact of information technology in healthcare – as published in the New York Times – Inder Singh and the Kinsa team are delivering real health benefits to real people every day – helping fight the flu.
More than 4 years ago I met Inder and I was truly inspired by his mission.  He was coming off of a tour of duty with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and was driven to help improve human health by creating a global map of human temperature.  He believed that a commercial, consumer driven approach was the right path and I couldn’t help but lean in to support Inder and his mission as a seed investor in Kinsa.
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Inder and I at Apple Store in Meatpacking NYC – on Nov 19, 2014 – first day that Kinsa was available in the Apple Store.

I’m blown away by the progress @ Kinsa over the past four years as they’ve created the best and least expensive smartphone connected thermometer that has generated 10M+ temperature readings.  The quantity of bottom up temperature readings has enabled them to build the worlds most advanced model for tracking flu trends.   Kinsa’s model is being hailed as the next generation capability to track flu trends – radically enhancing tools such as the models used by the CDC which are driven by data collected from hospitals or Google Flu trends which analyzes web search data.

The benefit of the Kinsa approach is being supercharged by the Kinsa FLUency schools program which gives away Kinsa thermometers to schools across the country – 400+ schools in the past 12 months.  Doing good while building a great company – truly awesome.

 The press is beginning to cover Kinsa – specifically :

I’m truly honored to be a small part of the Kinsa story and to consider Inder a friend.

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Koa Labs : The Next Chapter

Over the past 5+ years I’ve been working hard to help develop founder culture in Cambridge/Boston ecosystem. Thanks to my wife Amy for supporting my seemingly never ending startup addiction – she’s an amazing partner and soul mate.  615

As I outlined in my first Koa post back in the spring of 2012 – we have amazing startup resources in Cambridge/Boston and I consider it an honor to work with so many smart, talented entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists. At Koa we have expressed our enthusiasm for founding great companies via three methods :

  • seed fund primarily focused on backing first time entrepreneurs with technical backgrounds
  • “fierce networking” to connect the best people with the best opportunities across our ecosystem
  • a “startup club” in Harvard Square – a physical place for entrepreneurs to hang out, work on their projects and support each other in both success and failure. This started as a place to hang my hat and turns out – there were a ton of people who wanted co-working space in HSquare to start their companies

IMG_20171015_165735The Koa Labs seed fund is alive and well – our portfolio is here. Thus far we’ve invested ≈ $8M+  directly into startups and institutional seed funds with very healthy returns (despite the expectation that it would be worth $0 😉 I’m not making new direct investments at the moment but I am sure that I’ll go back to writing new checks at some point. As posted previously – I am working hard to focus on Tamr 100% and I am channeling my startup investing through Founder Collective and other great new seed funds in the Boston/Cambridge ecosystem such as The Engine, Pillar and others.

10622835_577159312409915_6893702260569433245_nI continue to do a ton of networking with all the fantastic people in our community – I get mojo from seeing great people work on big opportunities in our ecosystem.  I continue to believe that if we prosecuted intellectual content as aggressively as those in the Bay Area that we’d have 4X+ the number of startups in Boston/Cambridge.

I am continuously amazed at the artificial gap between the great academic talent/content in our ecosystem and the great commercial talent.  Most of these people are merely 1-2 T-stops away from each other – bridging these gaps is a lifelong mission for me.

As a result of my focus on Tamr and the emergence of other great co-working spaces on the red line – I’ve decided to get out of the “landlord” business in Harvard Square.  I’m hopeful that Tim Rowe and/or others will open additional co-working space in Harvard Square to compliment those in Kendall, Central and Davis – there is tremendous demand in Harvard Square based on my experience over the past 5 years. The Harvard iLab is also doing a great job and will be even more active once the new engineering school is finished across the river (btw I’m a huge fan of Frank Doyle – the new Dean at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – his work on the artificial pancreas is inspirational, he’s a great guy and welcome addition to our ecosystem in Boston).  22860126_1323004911158681_3812756076587665136_o

We’ve had the privilege to host some great startups and founders in our space @ 1430 Mass Ave over the past 5 years.  I thank all of them for the opportunity to work together.  Some of the great startups who have hung their hats @ Koa include : Recorded Future, Madaket, Tamr, Resurety, FirecrakerTwine Health, and many others.

I’d also like to thank all of the individual people who have helped me @ Koa over the past 5 years – especially Rich Miner, Christopher AhlbergKatie RaeFrank Moss, Remy Evard, Jim DoughertyZen Chu, Ellen Rubin, Scott Kirsner, Jody RoseKelsey Cole, Steve Bell, Joe McPhersonHugo VanVuurenJanice BrownTony Purpura, Kim Murphy, Sean Treacy & the team at Grafton Street Studio and of course Paul Melone.   I’d also like to thank the many interns that we’ve had at Koa including – Sam Roberts, Katie Kaufman, Ian LeeSean ClemensBryan Holtzman and Qin Li.  I’m psyched to continue to work with many of you at Tamr and on other projects.

Over the past decade, my favorite change in the startup ecosystem in Boston/Cambridge has been the migration from Route 128 into the city/red line.  This change has also come with a refocus on great Founders as the core of our startup ecosystem – the team at Founder Collective has done a great job curating founder role models by sponsoring the “Founder Dialog” series.

At the end of the day – incubators, service providers and funds are all necessary – but great founders are first and foremost the core of our ecosystem in Boston.  Over the past few years there is no greater example of the power of great founders in Boston than Langley Steinert @ Cargurus. I was following Langley’s lead when I moved to Harvard Square 5+ years ago to start Koa – CarGuru’s original offices are 3 blocks from Tamr.  If Tamr can be a fraction as successful as CarGurus – I’ll be thrilled – although I’m not planning to move out of Harvard Square anytime soon 😉


ps – special thanks to Aaron Kelsey Cole for all his effort – no one appears to work as hard as you big guy 😉


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Incredible milestone for Upstart #proudseedinvestor

Today Upstart announced that it had received the FIRST “no action letter” from the CFPB.  Details are in Dave’s post here.  This is an incredible moment for consumer lending as the future of the industry hinges on the responsible use of AI/ML to reduce costs and increase availability of credit for the benefit of consumers.  Upstart is paving the way, showing consumers that there is a much better and more cost effective way to borrow/lent.  Truly exceptional moment for a great company, fantastic people and world class founding team.  #proudseedinvestor

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Reposted from Dataconomy

Rich Miner – Android co-founder, formerly Google Ventures, now Google — asked me recently “What if companies managed their data like they manage their money?”

It’s a basic but profound question that merits some thoughts based on my 25 years managing both information and financial functions in technology and data businesses.

The surface-level analogy here, data is to money, is too apparent to linger on for long. In the information age, data has massive tangible value — especially now that businesses are applying machine learning to data in analytics and applications to accelerate cost savings and revenue growth.

The question gets more nuanced and interesting in unpacking the analogy to compare how data and money are handled as strategic assets within a business. By definition, businesses manage money, along with employees, as their most strategic asset — not just as cash flow (savings and revenue) on the P&L, but as growth-inducing capital on the balance sheet (M&A). And the tools for managing financial assets have naturally followed. Fortunately for them, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have a host of well-defined mechanisms to manage their company’s financial assets — frameworks, systems and tools that help them understand where the money comes from, where it goesand how much they currently have on hand. To this they’re adding ever more advanced predictive financial analytics as a way of guiding their decisions.

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and newly created executive positions of Chief Data Officers (CDOs) and Chief Analytic Officers (CAOs), are not that fortunate. For many good historical reasons, they lack a clear understanding of where information comes from, where it goes and what their current data inventory looks like. While their CFO counterparts can lean on common financial management frameworks dating back to the year 1340 and the advent of general ledger accounting, CIOs, CDOs and CAOs lack these sorts of common frameworks for managing data as a true asset. As a result, they find it difficult to answer some of the most basic questions: What information attributes do you have, how many records are there in those attributes, and who is using those attributes and records in their analyses?

This challenge, however, goes deeper than frameworks, systems and even tools — down to a fundamental conceptual flaw that the Fortune 1000 is still paying the price for. For decades, large businesses managed their data as “exhaust” (a byproduct of their systems, applications and transactions) to be contained, rather than as fuel for growth. The best-led companies — the ones with the highest Corporate IQ — have made the mental switch. Companies like GE, which to quote a recent Forbes piece by Randy Bean and Tom Davenport, “is leveraging AI and machine learning fueled by the power of Big Data” to accomplish its “digital transformation.” Or like CapitalOne, which has always used data as a strategic asset to drive its growth. Or younger companies like Upstart, which views itself less as a loan processing business and more as a data operation that uses the asset to make better loans.

These companies, and many more enlightened ones like them, see the transformational power of data and analytics, use it as a strategic weapon and — importantly — commit not only to the technology required to transform, but the behavioral and organizational change needed to operationalize it.

One more common thread now links these companies: those most successful at digital transformation have CDOs, CAOs and CIOs behaving aggressively like CFOs. Bill Ruh, GE’s Chief Digital Officer and CEO of GE Digital, is a great example. Beyond leading the company’s drive on the Internet of Things, he has overseen GE’s integration of data within its business operations. This includes its collaboration with Tamr to integrate GE’s global supplier data, which in the Forbes article Bill refers to as:

… a big win. It’s easy for suppliers to charge different prices for the same product when you can’t compare them across business units. We might spend $250 million a year on nuts and bolts, but that only becomes salient when you look across business units and see if they’re coming from the same suppliers. If they are, you are in a much better position to negotiate.”

Bill’s quote may very well be the answer to Rich Miner’s question: What if companies managed their data as carefully as they manage their money? They would, like GE did with Tamr on the supplier integration side:

  • Optimize Sourcing Strategies for ~$50 billion in material spend across business units
  • Renegotiate Contract Terms to identify $80 million in savings
  • Reduce Total Landed Cost of Products by unifying/cleaning tens of millions of shipping records

In other words, they would manage data as the most strategic of assets — committing as much C-level attention, as much analytical firepower and as much ROI-based measurement to data as they do to money.

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