Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

A pair of digital news companies are teaming up, with PressReader acquiring News360.

PressReader was founded back in 1999 as Newspaper Direct. It now operates a platform that converts newspapers and magazines into digital formats, while offering a $ 29.99 monthly subscription that provides unlimited access to more than 7,000 of those titles.

News360, meanwhile, is relatively youthful, having been founded in 2010. It’s also created a news aggregation app, but the announcement makes it sound like PressReader was particularly interested in the company’s NativeAI technology for analytics and personalization.

In a statement, PressReader CEO Alex Kroogman suggested that News360’s technology will be used to improve PressReader’s consumer experience and publisher tools:

In a world where news fatigue is a real and growing problem, and media literacy a global concern, it’s more important than ever for people to have access to the trusted content they need in an engaging environment. By understanding each person’s interests, and building advanced data science systems around content analytics, we will be able to give our millions of readers the trusted media they want, how they want it, when they want it, and where they want it, while building more audience intelligence into the data that drives our publisher and brand partnerships.

The News360 team will be joining PressReader and working out of the acquiring company’s Vancouver headquarters.

News360 CEO Roman Karachinsky told me via email that the combined company will continue to support the News360 app and “develop it alongside the PressReader apps,” but he added, “In the short-term[,] the team will be focused on adding News360 tech into PressReader, so I wouldn’t expect big changes to the News360 app until we’re done with this.”

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. According to Crunchbase, News360 has raised a total of $ 7.5 million from investors including Ordell Capital.


TechCrunch

Silicon Valley is obsessed with growth. And for digital health startups, that obsession is not only misguided, but dangerous.

The prevailing idea in the tech industry is that to succeed, you have to be ready to sell your idea, no matter how far along your idea really is. You’re encouraged to believe in your product even when there is no product to believe in.

And if you’re disrupting the mattress industry or the eyewear sector, maybe that’s okay.

But digital health startups must be held to a different and higher standard. We touch people’s lives, often when they are at their most vulnerable.

The healthcare startups in the news recently — Theranos, uBiome, Nurx, eClinicalWorks, Practice Fusion — seem to have lost sight of that crucial standard. We’ll never know every detail of what happened in these organizations, but one thing seems clear: In the pursuit of growth, they have put the patient second, and suffered as a result.

Where we went wrong

In the early days of digital health, I think we were much more focused on the patient than we are now. When I think of the early digital health companies — not just Propeller, but Omada Health, WellDoc, Ginger.io and Mango Health — all of their founders had an innate understanding of the importance of health outcomes. They craved proof that their product worked. They might have “faked it” a little bit when it came to their plans to scale — we all thought things would happen faster than they have — but when it came to research, they had answers, or a concrete plan to get answers.

My first conversation with Propeller’s co-founder and CEO, David Van Sickle, was illustrative of this. I met David at the geekiest of health conferences, Health Datapalooza. We talked about how sensors on medicines could improve people’s health. We talked about study designs and methods to generate data quickly in the real world, long before “real-world evidence” was all the buzz. We talked about a 500-person randomized controlled trial they were about to begin, immediately following FDA clearance of the system.

We talked — almost exclusively — about how Propeller could improve people’s lives, and how to prove that it worked.

So when did the digital health sector get away from that focus? And how do we get back to it?

I have a few theories on what went wrong.

First, it’s incredibly difficult to prioritize the patient as a digital health company when your investors are pushing for growth above all else. At Propeller, we were very lucky to have investors who understood our focus on making a product that worked, especially when growth was slow. Early digital health companies were funded like tech companies, with small amounts of money at a time and a need to show significant progress in 18-24 months to get the next round of funding. In contrast, life science companies are funded more heavily from the start, knowing there is a long road ahead of product development and clinical validation.

When I look at a company like uBiome, which may have rushed its tests through physician approval to meet aggressive growth targets, I see the effects of a culture and funding environment that pushes companies to deliver on growth first and foremost, no matter the tactics it takes to do so.

Product, then proof, then commercialization.

Second, we had a flood of founders and investors enter digital health from outside of healthcare.

I think digital health absolutely needs people, ideas and energy from outside the industry in order to change healthcare. But we also need everyone to learn the basics of how innovation occurs in a clinical setting: Product, then proof, then commercialization. Many of these new entrants were not just naive; they flaunted laws and “traditional healthcare” methods (and people) because they were deemed outdated and unnecessary.

They were aiming for disruption, not integration, and in doing so were ignoring the vast set of protections and people that have been put in place to ensure public safety.

The result is a glut of companies that have tried to scale growth before proving their product worked, which comes with tremendous risk. It can give patients and their physicians incorrect information leading to incorrect treatment. It can waste money on unneeded products. And it can impact the credibility of the entire digital health ecosystem.

Rebuilding a culture of outcomes

To fix this, we have to change the way we think about success in digital health, and that responsibility falls on many different parties.

The media has to be more critical of how it covers burgeoning digital health startups, prioritizing coverage of peer-reviewed research and proven outcomes over funding rounds and hiring numbers. The speaking circuit has to laud founders who can talk about how their products have changed people’s lives for the better, rather than giving the main speaking slot to the biggest exit of the year. And the investor community has to be patient with its investments, understanding that true growth in healthcare takes time.

And most of all, digital health startup founders have to be patient with themselves. I’ve been in the trenches of digital health; I know how hard it can be. But when things are tough and it’s easy to lose focus, you have to think to yourself, “Do I want to be in the headlines for astonishing growth now, and accusations of cutting corners in two years? Or am I okay with sacrificing temporary stardom for a product that actually helps people?”

This is not an easy choice to make. But if digital health is going to survive and scale, it’s one we have to make on a daily basis. Move slowly, and prove things: It’s the only way to create the kind of long-term change we’re seeking.


TechCrunch

Hon on the heels of being acquired by company builder Finleap, German SME banking upstart Penta has appointed a new CEO.

Marko Wenthin, who previously co-founded solarisBank (the banking-as-a-service used by Penta), is now heading up the company, having replaced outgoing CEO and Penta co-founder Lav Odorović.

I understand Odorović left Penta last month after it was mutually agreed with new owner Finleap that a CEO with more experience scaling should be brought in. The Penta co-founder remains a shareholder in the SME banking fintech and is thought to be eyeing up his next venture.

Wenthin, who remains on the board of solarisBank according to LinkedIn, stepped down from the banking-as-a-service’s executive team in late 2018 citing “health reasons” and saying that he needed to focus on his recovery. It’s not known what those health issues were, although, regardless, it’s good to see that he’s well-enough to take up a new role as Penta CEO.

Asked to comment on Odorović’s departure, Penta issued the following statement:

“Lav is still part of the shareholders at Penta. His step back from the operational management team was a decision taken by mutual agreement. Lav was the right fit during the building phase of Penta, but by entering a new step of growth, the company faces bigger challenges and needs therefore to position itself differently”.

Penta says that in his new leadership role, Wenthin, who previously spent 16 years at Deutsche Bank, will lead international expansion — next stop Italy — and begin to market the fintech to larger SMEs in addition to its original focus on early-stage startups and other small digital companies. “In the future, the focus will be also on traditional medium-sized companies,” says Penta.

Adds Wenthin in a statement: “I am very much looking forward to my new role at Penta. On the one hand, digital banking for small and medium-sized companies is very important to me, as they are the driver of the economy and I have spent most of my career in this segment. On the other hand, I have known Penta and the team for a long time as successful partners of solarisBank. Penta is the best example of how a very focused banking provider can create real, digital added value for an entire customer segment in cooperation with a banking-as-a-service platform”.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch understands that Odorović’s departure and the appointment of Wenthin isn’t the only recent personnel change within Penta’s leadership team. According to LinkedIn, Aleksandar Orlic, who held the position of CTO, departed the company last month. “We are searching for a new CTO,” said a Penta spokesperson.

Alongside Wenthin, that leaves Penta’s current management team as Jessica Holzbach (Chief Customer Officer), Luka Ivicevic (Chief of Staff), Lukas Zörner (Chief Product Officer (CPO) and Matteo Concas (Chief Marketing Officer).


TechCrunch

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