To Stream, Perchance to Heal
Private funding flows to a U.S. company developing an integrated circuit to power mobile television. Plus, heath-care technology companies receive a financial transfusion.
Company: Xceive Corporation
HQ: Santa Clara, CA
Management: Pierre Favrat is president, CEO, and co-founder. He was previously with STMicroelectronics, the Geneva, Switzerland-based semiconductor giant. Alain-Serge Porret is vice president of engineering and a co-founder. He was a technical manager at Electronics Laboratory (LEG) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, a science and technology university, and he has authored numerous scientific papers on tradeoffs and design to optimize power usage in semiconductors.
Investors: In June, the company raised $13.5 million from Sequoia Capital, Alliance Ventures, BA Venture Partners, and The Ignite Group.
Business Model: The company has developed an integrated circuit for consumer electronics products, including analog and digital TVs, set-top boxes, VCRs, and personal video recorders that act like TV tuners. These integrated circuits are often known as a TV-on-a-chip. The core technology, QuickTune, allows device manufacturers to incorporate live digital television into a variety of products, including some logical spots like TVs, PC TVs, and set-top boxes, as well as more creative platforms like mobile phones, PDAs, and other small consumer electronic devices. As with many developers of chip technologies, Xceive claims one of its strengths is low power consumption, which is essential for small mobile devices that run on battery power.
Competitors: Microtune, Texas Instruments, Freescale
Dirt: The idea of bringing TV to small mobile devices has been around for a while, but the technology has been slow to keep pace with the promise of the idea. Interest persists because wireless providers are looking to add data services to user plans in order to increase revenues, and mobile TV provides that opportunity. The good news for Xceive is that the stars may be aligning for its products. A new wireless standard called Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld (DVB-H) has been designed to bring TV to smaller devices, and its being embraced by major players such as Nokia, which recently launched a pilot project in Helsinki to test the concept of delivering a television broadcast to a mobile phone. In the United States, Sprint and Verizon have already launched forays into streaming television programming to wireless devices. While Xceive also develops its products for more traditional platforms, like TVs, PC TVs, and set-top boxes, we suspect that venture capitalists see the big growth coming from the mobile opportunity.
Increasing the Pulse of eHealth
eHealth shows signs of regaining its strength and other alarm-clock news from the land of private venture funding.
Back in 1996, serial entrepreneur Jim Clarke – fresh from triumphs at Silicon Graphics and Netscape – launched Healtheon with funding from Kleiner Perkins. By sprinkling Internet fairy dust over the enormous global health-care system – which, by and large, continues to rely on paper-based filing systems rather than electronic patient records, or even communicating via e-mail and the Web – it seemed Clark and company would surely make a killing. It didnt turn out that way. Healtheon, and the numerous other health-care-oriented Internet startups that were launched in the late 1990s, have yet to truly deliver the financial benefits of the marriage between technology and health care.
That hasn’t stopped venture capitalists from looking for the silver bullet, though. Today, a small number of startups are again taking on health care with Internet-based technology solutions. This time, their ambitions are more modest. Israel-based dbMotion, which creates secured virtual patient records by connecting a group of care providers, and without data centralization, recently raised $10.2 million in venture capital led by Gemini Israel Funds.
The company makes patient information accessible to caregivers via the Web, enabling clinical staff to make better care decisions, shorten care cycles, and improve the quality of care. It accomplishes this by installing servers at medical facilities that extract data from existing information systems, translate that data into a standard format, and then serve that data to secure web sites that are custom configured by each health-care facility. So far, it has a fair track record of proving its value. Since its launch in 2001 with Israels largest HMO, Clalit Health Services, the company has expanded into Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. With its new round of financing, it is looking to expand beyond Israel.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, Emmeryville, CA-based RelayHealth has developed a messaging platform that enables health-care providers to give non-urgent advice to patients, renew prescriptions, schedule appointments, receive lab results, request referrals, and access self-care information. The group recently raised $7 million from strategic investors Cisco Systems and McKesson. RelayHealths system provides better security and the ability to audit, two key components for health-care providers concerned about the integrity of patient information. RelayHealth has prestigious users, including Stanford University and Tufts New England Medical Center.
RelayHealth isn’t alone in this space, though. Startup RMD Networks (“ReachMyDoctor”) recently raised its first round of funding: $3 million, led by Sevin Rosen. The company’s website, ReachMyDoctor.com, lets patients make appointments, refill medications, obtain referrals, and examine billing and insurance issues. The platform is used by medical staff as a scheduling and patient-management tool. ReachMyDoctor is an online medical record for laboratory results, EKGs, and immunization records; and other important health documents can be posted to a patient’s online chart.
Like RelayHealth, RMD represents technological baby steps. But as patients, politicians, and businesses continue to pressure the health-care sector to catch up with the rest of the economy, such companies will be the few with expertise to transform online heath-care communications.
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