Startup Unite Us Raises $150 Million to Link Health and Social Services
(Bloomberg) -- Unite Us, a New York-based health-care startup, became the city’s latest unicorn as the tech industry pushes deeper into health and medicine.
The startup, legally named Unite USA Inc., plans to announce on Tuesday it raised $150 million from investors. The new funding round vaults the company to a $1.6 billion valuation, up from $210 million when it last raised money two years ago. The investment was led by Iconiq Growth, and also included Laurene Powell Jobs's Emerson Collective.
The funding is part of a growing focus on health by tech investors. Last year, venture backers put $48.4 billion into health-care companies and startups, according to data provider PitchBook, about 60% more than they deployed to the sector in 2019. By contrast, the perennial top venture-backed sector, information technology, grew by only about 20% last year, to $60 billion. Early data for 2021 suggest the growth rate in health care isn’t likely to slow.
Unite Us, founded in 2013, provides technological back-end systems that connect community organizations, health-care providers and plans, state and local governments and foundations. For example, if a patron of a food bank mentions medical issues, the service could help workers refer the person to a primary care doctor. The startup’s software works with organizations like Aetna Life Insurance and Kaiser Permanente.
Originally founded for military use, Unite Us saw big growth last year, expanding into 42 states. To keep up with demand, the startup needs to create more payment structures and offer more comprehensive analytics, two areas where its latest cash infusion will help, said Chief Executive Officer Dan Brillman.
Even as health-care technology has expanded, there were some bumps during the pandemic. Last month, several California counties stripped One Medical Group Inc. from future allocations of Covid-19 vaccinations after the company inoculated younger people ahead of those in more susceptible groups. The company said in a statement that it has tightened its standards for checking vaccine eligibility going forward. Meanwhile, startup Philly Fighting Covid is no longer distributing vaccines after glitches in its Philadelphia-area vaccine rollout. A spokesman for the organization blamed the problems in part on flawed third-party software.
The stakes in the industry are high, and Brillman said Unite Us will prioritize follow-through on promised projects. “We’re not going to say we’re going to come up with something new we can’t deliver on,” he said. “We’ve stayed very focused on being accountable.” For example, at the start of the pandemic the company was launching its services in North Carolina. It finished the rollout six months ahead of schedule, in midyear 2020, Brillman said.
Unite Us investor Iconiq Growth is an affiliate of San Francisco-based Iconiq Capital. Caroline Xie, a general partner at Iconiq Growth who is also an investor in Komodo Health Inc. and GoodRx Inc., will take a board seat at Unite Us. Existing investors including Define Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Town Hall Ventures also joined the round.
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