Category Archives: Insights

Predictions for 2016: Self-Driving Cars, AI, and Brain Monitoring

This post originally appeared on Xconomy here.

Whether we have been in a tech bubble or not is frankly not that interesting. What is interesting is that the foundation for innovation is as strong as we’ve ever seen and entrepreneurs are bringing the future to reality at an amazing pace. Here are a few of my predictions for what we’ll see in 2016:

1. Self-driving vehicles hit the road for real, led by commercial trucks on interstate highways. So far most conversations around self-driving cars focus on personal vehicles. It’s unlikely we’ll take a fully autonomous car for our daily commute for quite a few years, but commercial trucking will see self-driving vehicles emerge far sooner. One company, Peloton, is already making this a reality. Long haul trucking is an easier technical challenge because interstates are generally straight lines, well-marked, digitally mapped in high definition, and generally free of pedestrians, bicycles, and other random obstacles; and the economic productivity of trucks can justify substantial investment in sophisticated cameras, sensors, and computers needed for autopilot systems. The economic need for autonomous trucks is huge due to the high cost and shortage of drivers, regulatory limits on driving time, and the fuel efficiency gained from convoys travelling close together in peloton formation.

2. Artificial intelligence will improve by leaps and bounds, and so will the way we interact with it. At first Siri frustrated us with its faults, and Google Now annoyed us with random cards on our screen, but I’ve noticed that recently both systems have gotten much broader and more accurate. Most of us barely scratch the surface in terms of their capabilities. In 2016 we will become more accustomed to interacting with AI systems of all kinds that are more natural, comfortable, and intelligent. Just as it took time for us to get used to self-checkout stations at the grocery store and the early days of voicemail were profoundly awkward, societal norms will need to adjust, and designers will need to create better user experiences for us to accept without pause that we’re interacting with an AI system and not a human. As we get better at these interactions, the AI technology gets smarter. Our digital assistant will ask nuanced questions (e.g. “did you mean the fruit or the company?”) to ensure it’s answering correctly. Smarter AI will enable automation of the rote components across a huge spectrum of jobs categories including dietary/fitness training, customer service, financial advice, education, and medicine, freeing up humans to focus on the most value added components of these occupations. As our expectations for human to computer interactions continue to grow, AI systems will rise to the challenge.

3. Wearable brain-monitoring devices for mindfulness training will become mainstream. It’s rare to see a person without a smartphone glued to his or her hand in almost any setting these days, though many people are becoming aware of the downsides of digital addiction and its effect on mental and physical health and our relationships. Couple this with growing public interest in meditation, yoga, and digital detox, and we’ll see mindfulness training become front and center in 2016 in wearable device form. Wearable fitness devices like the Fitbit or Apple Watch have become part of everyday life and early pioneers in this space have developed devices to monitor brainwaves, such as the Muse Brain Sensing Headband. The irony of a digital device helping with meditation and mindfulness may make you cringe, but brain training is hard and feedback essential and self-quantification of progress almost impossible until recently. Brain wave sensing devices will improve as our awareness and need for them grows, and they’ll soon become as mainstream as heart rate monitors.

Regardless of what the financial markets do in 2016, innovation will continue at fever pitch and cool new products and technologies will become newly indispensable parts of our work and lives.


Source: http://vcwaves.wordpress.com

5 must-do’s for succeeding in health tech

This article first appeared in VentureBeat. It is co-authored with Bryan Roberts.

We are five years into the greatest transformation of the U.S. healthcare system in the half century since Medicare was enacted. Since 2009, over 500 healthcare IT (HCIT) startups have been founded, supported by $10 billion dollars of early stage venture capital.

As investors with front row seats, we are hopeful. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), HITECH Act, Health Data Initiative, and Great Recession have made health care providers, insurers, and patients more receptive to change. Equally important, entrepreneurs from across industry verticals are entering healthcare, believing that the time is right to attack a massive and growing sector, suffering from decades of lagging technology and productivity.

We see great companies emerging to capitalize on these changes and fundamentally redefine the cost and outcomes of healthcare in the United States. Unfortunately, we fear that many of the companies we meet with are doomed to failure, or worse niche status, as they run afoul of one or more of the “must have” tenets that are critical to this vertical – the five commandments for creating a successful healthtech company:

1. Know your ROI goal

Few companies involved in healthcare delivery make any money. Net margins across insurance companies, and hospitals are less than 10% at best. So if you expect these groups to buy into your product or service, you have to be able to deliver tangible ROI very quickly – ideally in the first 12, but no longer than 24 months. If your product takes longer to deliver that return — or if the ROI you deliver is too soft, you’ll never get high on the crowded priority lists of financially strapped buyers. Twelve months is also magic since that is how long a patient’s insurance policy runs, as well as the time frame for risk adjustments and shared savings payment models for doctors. For employers, you can occasionally get their attention with a two-year ROI, but anything beyond that is too long to overcome employee turnover at most companies. This is why preventative health businesses have struggled mightily to get any real scale. It takes too long to generate cost savings for the initial buyer to even get started.

2. Remember that sickness doesn’t drive engagement

People do not like being reminded that they are sick. So they only engage with healthcare when they have to. And when they do engage, it is either for an acute short-duration condition (e.g., recovery from an injury) or for a very serious condition (e.g., cancer or neurological condition). So technologies that focus on ongoing social engagement for more basic health issues have a terrible track record — low virality and dreadful churn.

Many attempts to build healthcare social networks have struggled to overcome the fact that healthcare is really thousands, perhaps 10,000, unique disease categories (e.g., stage 4 breast cancer patients have little in common with stage 1 colon cancer patients and are very different from patients with diabetes or high blood pressure). This leads to hyper-fragmented, tiny communities that struggle to engage people for long enough to overcome customer acquisition costs and churn.

Importantly, people with chronic disease feel fine most of the time. While it is true that chronic diseases do account for most of healthcare costs, it takes a long time for a patient to start incurring high enough costs to justify buying a product or service (see Commandment #1). As a result, app stores are littered with unused pill reminders, symptom trackers, biometric sensors, and educational tools.

3. Choose your customer carefully

Every dollar you save your customer is a dollar you’ve taken from some other player in the health system. This means you can’t be dependent on the participation or cooperation of whoever stands to lose revenue because of you (for example, counting on hospitals to share electronic health records to reduce admissions).

Equally important, it is essential to know who you are helping — and to make sure that the problem you are attacking is big enough so your customer will stand up to the other ecosystem parties who want you to fail. For example, Castlight Health’s customer is the self-insured employer; Castlight exists to decrease healthcare costs for employers, which necessarily reduces the revenues of healthcare providers, who the insurance companies depend on. To be successful in its early days, Castlight needed employers to go to bat on their behalf with insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to get the price and quality data they required. It is very rare to be able to please more than one stakeholder in the health system – so choosing, and standing by, your customer is critical.

4. Focus on B2B

In many cases, it is employers, not consumers, who pay most of the medical bills. 50 million Americans are insured through self-insured employers (large companies that assume the risk of covering health benefits for their employees rather than working with an insurer). With consumer out-of-pocket spending now capped at $6,600 per year by the ACA, these employers will be paying all expenses over that cap. Patients with chronic diseases and anyone who happens to have an acute condition (like pregnancy or an appendectomy) is likely to exceed the out-of-pocket maximum. This leads to patients only acting like consumers for inexpensive and elective care, like lab tests, imaging, and flu shots, not the expensive things that could bend cost curves. You always want to go where the money is – and it remains in the enterprise.

The other advantage of B2B is that it overcomes the vertical’s lack of virality among consumers. Since employers aggregate potential users by the tens or hundreds of thousands, they can be terrific channel partners – accessing users at much greater velocity and lower customer acquisition costs. While historically this has been done by lunchroom marketing and $25 coupons, employers are increasingly adopting material penalties and even absolute requirements of participation in order to drive adoption within their employee populations.

5. Understand that “Population Health” and “Big Data” are still just buzzwords

Health plans and doctors are very good today at identifying high-risk patients – plans through claims histories, and doctors with their intrinsic diagnostic skills. In fact, when you ask a doctor to list their high-risk patients, they often do better than the computer prediction. The hard part of population health and big data is not identifying patients at risk, rather it is doing something to change the risk.

While “big data” intuitively should be able to improve care by personalizing treatment plans, our health system is several sigma away from the reliability that is needed to make this a reality. For big data to matter, we first need a much improved healthcare system that consistently delivers the right diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes. Then we can optimize them.

So the good news is that we are finally seeing change and disruption in an industry that desperately needs it, and the talent pouring into the space is energizing. For this to continue, entrepreneurs and health-tech companies will need to keep focusing on these five commandments.

 


Source: http://bobkocher.org

10 Big Healthcare Predictions for 2016

This article first appeared in Fortune. It is co-authored with Bryan Roberts.

In 2015 we learned that several unicorns need more time on the ranch before they get their magical powers, people still love tracking their steps, and Hepatitis C can be cured about as effectively as the flu. These observations led us to speculate about what will happen in 2016. Here are our 10 healthcare industry predictions for next year:

1. The FTC will block a major hospital merger based upon unequivocal data that consolidation leads to price increases more than quality gains.

2. “Wearables” become “Ther-ables”. A new category of wearables will enter the market and become substitutes for costlier medical therapies. They will offer less invasive but highly effective treatments for diseases and adopt business models based upon medical value creation instead of wellness, entertainment, and education.

3. End of life care grabs headlines, and hospice usage doubles among ACOs and capitated doctors. In response to increasingly expensive medications, high deductible plans and new payment models, doctors engage patients in the shared decision-making around end of life discussions. Over time, this will lead to pressure on drug pricing, higher Net Promoter Scores from patients, and higher incomes for doctors.

4. A major hospital system will divest itself from its employed doctors after losing too much money and avoiding the move into risk-based reimbursement. As a result, hospitals will begin unwinding the money-losing practices they have been acquiring over the last five years, similar to the 1990s when the physician practice management roll-ups failed.

5. The insurance innovation craze of 2015 will be a bust in 2016. Several noted provider-sponsored health plans and startups will struggle to achieve competitive premiums and, as a result, attract few members and hemorrhage cash. While compelling software experiences are cool (and needed), the “laws of physics” of health insurance favor mega-plans that can use their market power to get far better provider discounts and apply their armies of case managers to better manage high-cost patients.

6. Precision medicine cools, à la the Human Genome Project in 1999, and surges a decade later. The headlines translate into little immediate impact because biology is too complex, and care is simply not reliable enough to benefit from the fine-tuning imagined by precision medicine. Today, greater return on investment comes from prescribing a generic statin, making patients compliant, and hitting a generic LDL goal of <100, instead of spending $3,000 for sequencing to reaffirm that this generic “evidence-based guideline supported” approach is just fine.

7. Pop Health goes Pop. Some notable analytics companies will disappear or pivot to become medical providers because their current provider customers are unable to derive enough value from their pop health analytical tools. In fact, most of the current value from these tools comes from upcoding and gaming the risk – adjustment system for higher payment as opposed to complication avoidance. In addition, most providers already know which of their patients are high risk, making these tools dispensable.

8. In-person on-demand flops. The laws of high customer acquisition cost and limited ability of most people to pay high prices collide to make the market for on-demand doctors and prescription drug delivery very small. Instead, video-telemedicine will be the way people access care rapidly and at a fraction of the cost. We will continue to stand in line, at least in 2016, at retail pharmacies for prescription drugs.

9. PCSK9 cholesterol drugs make Solvaldi look cheap. The positive mortality data will make doctors want to lower cholesterol to the minuscule levels that only PCSK9s can deliver. Also, patients will view the weekly injection as more convenient than daily pills. The success of weekly injections to assure compliance with doctor’s orders will lead to more innovation in drug delivery strategies that remove the risk of patients forgetting to swallow pills.

10. Employers start to treat healthcare costs as seriously as travel expenses. Just as employers mandate preferred travel partners and per diems for travel expenses, they will become equally active in imposing rules to manage healthcare costs. Large employers may choose which doctors and hospitals employees visit, require second opinions before high cost procedures or treatments, recommend telemedicine before going to an emergency room, or require online tools for managing their conditions and out-of-pocket expenses.

While we would never claim to be soothsayers, we look forward to seeing how each of these predictions unfolds in 2016.


Source: http://bobkocher.org

The Auto Industry Won’t Create The Future

In the collision between consumer technology, cloud computing and cars, the legacy auto companies are lacking key ingredients for the future of the automobile. Here are the vectors for auto disruption.

This post originally appeared on Medium.

The potential is so exciting, you can almost taste it — a world of self-driving electric cars, eliminating 1.25 million annual traffic deaths, reducing massive amounts of climate-altering emissions, urban parking lot real estate turning into parks and ending the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. We all seem to know what we want. But who will bring it to us?

I believe this inevitable transition creates a very clear set of vectors for disruption of the traditional automotive industry and, like other industries transformed by technology (newspapers, travel agents, the music industry, traditional retail, etc.), many new winners are likely to emerge. Let’s examine why.

1. Innovation

As every industry becomes a technology industry, its pace of innovation must accelerate. Those of us used to Moore’s Law as the single most-defining characteristic of the information age know that rapid innovation is a constant. If you don’t quickly innovate, your competitors will, and you will get lapped in one tech cycle. Cultures of rapid innovation, while common in technology, are less common in industrial age companies. Think about the length of product cycles in the car industry—new car models take three to five years to develop and launch and then sit stagnant for six years in the market, devoid of meaningful improvement or new innovation. The only way to get new feautures? Buy a new car.

The technology industry will most certainly take a different approach to cars. We think about building and deploying hardware platforms into the market, on top of which we frequently update the OS. The OS enables developers to build thousands or millions of apps which bring new functionality to the user. We know the user expects the product to meaningfully improve over time with over-the-air updates. And when we do need to rev the core hardware, we do so rapidly, typically in one-to-two year cycles.

A good example of this is the phone. Today, consumers are getting rapidly updated mobility features for their cars (navigation, for example), but they are getting it on their phones and not from the traditional auto companies.

Complicating the car industry’s ability to rapidly innovate is the fact that they have largely become system integrators. They develop very few components of a car, instead sourcing almost all key components from tier one suppliers such as Bosch and Continental. Take a look at this graphic:

When so much of your product is designed and built by suppliers, you may lack key engineering leadership within to substantively and quickly produce innovations not generally available to your competitors. While new entrants to the car industry will certainly utilize tier one and two suppliers for much of their components, they will likely choose to produce proprietary innovations in some areas where neither today’s car companies nor their suppliers typically excel. We will get to a few of those areas below.

(I am confident several readers will point out that Apple sources tons of its iPhone components from third party suppliers. While true, Apple designs the most important components themselves—the CPU, the OS and many default apps. This article helps explain why that is so critical. In addition, Apple works deeply with its suppliers to direct development around areas most likely to benefit the end user. The same cannot be said of the majority of the existing car companies.)

2. Electrification

Tesla, Google, Apple and other expected new car entrants are centering their designs around electric vehicles. This is true for many reasons, the biggest being that electric motors are much simpler than internal combustion engines. Removal of this complexity, in some ways, is a resetting of the core expertise required to produce a great automotive product — goodbye combustion engine, carburetor, transmission, exhaust, emissions systems and fuel economy management; hello batteries, power optimization, charging systems, and engine controllers. Some of these new capabilities are native to consumer electronic manufacturers who have been dealing with battery life and power optimization for some time, albeit on a very small scale. A bunch of car companies have produced an electric car. But building an entire organization around this and nothing else will produce a focus and an innovation trajectory likely to outstrip that of companies who do it as a side project.

3. Software

Perhaps the most significant shifting of the automotive tectonic plates is the move to software. The future of the automobile will largely be built by software developers. Yes, existing combustion engine cars have embedded systems with lots of code in them to handle everything from HVAC to automatic transmissions. In fact, the complexity in integrating these many layers of software together is causing lots of consternation at the traditional car companies, given this is not their main areas of expertise. In addition to this, future cars will utilize software in profoundly different ways.

Of course we know that Tesla (currently) and Apple (future) are trying to re-imagine the interface between the driver and car, and their dashboards are (likely to be) gorgeous and vastly improved over the mostly superfluous dials and gauges car manufacturers think we need to see (when was the last time you had to check your RPMs or engine temperature?). Good hardware, software and UX designers will be behind all of that. But future vehicles equipped with ADAS systems and eventually autonomous capabilities will need to make trillions of driving decisions based on lots of sensory data.Vision, LiDAR, sonor and other sensors will combine with real-time streams from the internet, from other vehicles and even from municipal environmental data sources (our portfolio company INRIX is one such data supplier). These inputs are analyzed in real-time, likely with a combination of local on-board and cloud-based compute resources to make driving decisions. Such complex AI systems will be adaptable machine learning systems which continuously refine their decision-making models.

Understanding this makes it less of a surprise that Google leads the way in autonomous vehicle development today. Google’s search engine is an at-scale example of just such a system and much of Google’s core development expertise is in cloud-based predictive systems.

There are two main reasons why legacy auto companies are unlikely to excel in these areas. The first, is that very few of the world’s best AI engineers, data scientists and cloud computing experts work at auto companies today. And while there are certainly talented engineers at these companies, despite the many Silicon Valley-based research centers opened by the car companies in recent years, companies like Google, Tesla, Apple and Uber have been a bigger draw for the extraordinary technology architects and data scientists looking to disrupt the auto industry through software. The second reason is data.

4. Data

Connecting some cameras and sensors to a Mobileye chip and doing some lane-centering or adaptive cruise control is the easy stuff. To reach truly autonomous driving is much, much harder because the system first has to learn. There are no existing set of rules we can program into a car which will prepare it to anticipate and avoid all hazardous situations it may eventually encounter. Effective autonomous driving systems must use machine learning to develop sophisticated models which can adapt to many different circumstances. Machine learning systems require large data sets to reach optimality.

Do you remember when Google offered “Free 411”? They weren’t doing it to be generous. They did it in order to capture millions of different voices and speech patterns to train the speech recognition systems now used by Google Now. Google is accustomed to using data scale to reach performance levels others cannot match. This is precisely the network effects which allow Google search to still out-perform competitors. Google, with 63% search marketshare, just has more data than everyone else. They see more searches and more clicks than anyone and can train their algorithms accordingly.

The same data scale advantages will affect self-driving cars. This is why Google has driven their current fleet of 48 self-driving cars more than 1.2 million miles — to gather data and train their systems. That slow-moving pedestrian between two parked cars? That’s a hazard. Sunlight reflecting off a puddle of water to your left? Not a hazard.

Tesla, too, is heavily focused on this. Check out this passage from VentureBeat.

The best self-driving cars will be those that are part of the largest network or fleet, sharing data and learning among them. This is a problem for the existing automakers. They have no data. If they were onto this, they would be equipping their current automobiles to gather this data and to train systems back in the lab. (I have heard Uber intends to do this, as their driving footprint is very large.) In addition, almost all of the components for self-driving cars built by legacy auto companies will come from the tier one suppliers. Those guys also have no data. In fact, they are likely to have even bigger problems gathering it, since they have no direct relationship with drivers—our data would not be available to them.

5. Direct consumer relationships

I have written before about how the shift of attention from mainstream media properties to social media platforms requires brands to now have a direct relationship with their customers. One of the biggest vectors for disruption in cars is the existing manufacturer/dealer model. The model where auto companies sell to dealers who, in turn, sell (with terrible experiences) to drivers is an idea who time has come and gone. Tesla, as the first successful direct-to-consumer auto brand, has this right. They don’t have dealers, they have showrooms. They don’t haggle with us over price. (I remember once hearing car companies defend this practice by stating that consumers actually prefer to haggle over price.) How does the industry react to this modern model of engagement, allowing one to actually know and understand one’s customer? They sue to protect dealers.

Modern car companies will not use legacy dealer networks. They will sell directly to consumers and engender long-term relationships with them.

6. Executive Dismissiveness

The final signal that the auto companies won’t bring us the future can be heard from the mouths of the most influential executives at those companies today:

“I think, like so many Silicon Valley techies, that they believe they are smarter than the world’s automobile business, and that they will do it better. No way.”
– Bob Lutz, former vice chairman of General Motors

“There is absolutely no reason to assume that Apple is going to be financially successful in the electric car business. Electric cars are generally money losers. If I were a shareholder I’d be very upset.”
– Bob Lutz, former vice chairman of General Motors

“I have no idea who will be first to market with an autonomous vehicle.”
– Mark Fields, CEO Ford

“We’re in the car business today, and they’re not.”
– Mark Reuss, Product Development Chief, GM (speaking about Google)

You might remember these quotes from one of the co-CEOs of Blackberry:

“[Apple and the iPhone is] kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers … But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.”
– Jim Balsillie, February 2007

“As nice as the Apple iPhone is, it poses a real challenge to its users. Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that’s a real challenge. You cannot see what you type.”
– Jim Balsillie, November 2007.

It’s true that Apple, Google, Uber and the many new upstarts working on the future of cars know nothing about the car business as practiced the last one hundred and seven years. The key here is that the future of the car business is going to be dramatically different than the past.

I am confident many of the existing automotive companies will produce cars with autonomous features. And some of them will be quite good. And eventually they will produce some fully autonomous electric cars too. In the meantime, there are many super-strong, thoughtful entrepreneurs with lots of incredible hardware and software experience working to fundamentally redefine what consumers should expect from cars.

The history of innovation and disruption teaches us that, at the point of major technological platform change, new entrants can emerge and take meaningful marketshare and value away from the incumbents. I believe we are on the cusp of such a change. It might make sense to take that transition very seriously. I know we are.

Source: http://www.pakman.com

Amino: Communities For The Mobile-Only Generation

In the 1980s, those of us with personal computers used our Hayes Smartmodems to connect to bulletin board systems (BBS). These were electronic message boards that allowed people to chat asynchronously with each other, usually about geeky topics like Dungeons and Dragons or phone phreaking. Shortly thereafter, with the arrival of the pre-web internet, Usenet’s newsgroups arrived and hundreds of thousands of those lucky enough to be connected to the internet expanded the conversation to include literally thousands of topics with arcane titles like rec.arts.tv andcomp.dcom.telecom. Connected computers were the enablers of topical conversations, even during the earliest days of computing.

Once the web emerged, these largely text-based conversations got spruced up and turned into online forums. There are now millions of them, and many are powered by software like phpBB and vBulletin. You probably encounter them multiple times a week. They are brilliantly optimized for the desktop web, their pages (and knowledge within) SEO really well, and have helped millions of us find answers to highly specific questions and interact with like-minded people. They are the largest repositories of conversations and communities on the pre-social web.

With the emergence of Facebook and other social networks, many of our conversations shifted to these modern communities. But these networks are general and largely non-specialized, so it has become harder to find active communities and conversations around passions like black and white photography or Pokemon.

And now that the mobile web has overtaken the desktop web, this need has become even greater — on our mobile devices, where do we go to talk about our passions?

Amino has the answer. They have created scores of mobile-only passion communities for the teen and millennial generation and are on their way to create thousands. Their communities are highly mobile-optimized (in fact, they are mobile-only) and utilize best practices from the most successful feed-based social platforms. Their users love them (check out their appstore ratings!) and, more importantly, are highly engaged in both creating and consuming content. If you care about anime, video games, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or even wrestling, you will find your community on Amino.

Amino, like many of the most valuable internet companies, createsplatforms for self-expression and communication. We have an investment theme around this at Venrock (check out YouNow, for example) and we are excited to welcome Amino into our portfolio.

Ben and Yin founded the company to create the most active communities on the mobile internet. We think they have done a tremendous job and understand the needs and passions of their largely teen and millennial audience better than anyone. We are pleased to announce that we led their most recent financing and are excited to join our friends at USV to work with this fantastic team to build the best place for passions in the world.

Source: http://www.pakman.com

Amino

Communities have existed as long as humans have and were the first form of a social network. Communities originally existed solely offline and were signified by one’s geographic proximity to another. Thanks to the internet the world is ever rapidly becoming smaller and smaller. Nowadays communities signify online forums, blogs, and message boards. With the advent of mobile, we have yet another medium with which we can utilize to continue shrinking our world.

Successful social networks tend to grab a lion share of their users time and continue to get better with each additional user (i.e. they have network effects). In the world of media, the most important asset a platform can accumulate is the attention span of its users — my colleague David Pakman, goes into greater detail on this topic here. As the majority of consumers’ attention has shifted to mobile, anyone creating a product to attract consumers is either developing mobile first or mobile only. The majority of Facebook and Twitter’s usage happens within their mobile app, Snapchat is mobile only, and another investment of ours, YouNow, sees the majority of its viewership occurring on mobile. Yet there still isn’t a platform on mobile dedicated to the passions and interests of consumers.

Enter Amino — Amino is a suite of mobile communities, each one a social network community built around a vertical or passion. Facebook and Twitter have come to dominate the social landscape and are mass arenas for global conversation. Users invented the hashtag to allow for #interests to be segmented within general conversation streams, but there is currently no dominant player of interest communities. We believe the dramatic shift of attention from desktop to mobile provides an opportunity to build special-interest communities within apps and specifically on mobile.

We are excited to join Ben and Yin on their journey of creating the interest network! Check out the list of communities here:http://www.aminoapps.com/amino-apps/

Source: http://ker.by

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

The currency of the media business is attention.
So where are we spending it?

(This post originally appeared on Medium.)

The currency of the media business is attention. Those who have it have been granted your permission to speak to you, entertain you, inspire you, inform you or just plain piss you off. Each time we make a choice to play a game, read some email, scroll through a feed, snack on a video or swipe left or right, we are making or breaking the future of a media company. As a VC, I have to make bets on where the world is going. So, in order to evaluate media-oriented companies, I follow the attention.

Over the past ten years, thanks to the rise of social networks and smartphones, there has been a meaningful shift of attention away from legacy media properties like the nightly TV news, print newspapers and magazines, and onto consumer internet platforms like Facebook and YouTube. This shift has been particularly dramatic among teens and millennials. I believe the media habits of digital natives are predictive of what the future holds for most of us. Growing up with a supercomputer in your pocket connected to most of the world’s population and knowledge has created an irreversible pattern of behavior unlikely to revert to the ways of previous generations. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers.

timespent2

The chart above shows the growth of mobile devices and the decline of print and radio. Television, even when the numbers include DVR time-shifted and on-demand viewing, has fallen back down to its 2008 levels. Since there are only twenty-four hours in a day, it is helpful to look at this on a share basis.

timespentpercent

But this data is for all age groups. Let’s take a closer look at millennial attention.

MilltimespentTVSo, no surprise that millennials use mobile devices more and watch less TV. You can see in the chart at the left that traditional TV viewing is declining for most age groups, but for people under age 24 it has completely fallen off a cliff. The idea that this behavior will reverse itself as digital natives age sounds like wishful thinking at best.

Attention Apocalypse

With mobile completely eating our attention, what do we do while on these devices? How do we divide our attention?

mobiletime.001First, we spend 86% of mobile time in-app. The idea that the mobile web is a credible channel through which to reach consumers is largely disproven at this point. We spend a third of our time on gaming and another third of our time on social networks and messaging apps. This helps explain Facebook’s aggressive M&A strategy around properties like Instagram and WhatsApp and also helps explain Google’s weakened position as a result of our shift to mobile. Without YouTube and Google Maps, one might argue their properties are of decreasing relevance.

Topapps.001

Concentrating on social and messaging has allowed Facebook to completely dominate mobile. In fact, nine out of the top 10 apps globally last year were social apps or messaging platforms.

The killer-app of the mobile generation is the platform for self-expression and communication. Given this, it is baffling that none of the traditional media companies have invested in, built or acquired any of the hundreds of global properties which have hoovered our attention away from their legacy properties. In fact, the audience sizes being drawn to these new platforms are massively dwarfing audience sizes of traditional media properties. You wouldn’t know that from reading the “media” sections of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, who still produce thousands of stories discussing the rise and fall of cable TV programs and chronicling the comings and goings of journalists from one print property to another. Yet they comfortably ignore YouTube celebrities, Viners and Twitch broadcasters with much larger audiences. Hola Soy German, for example, has a larger audience than the NBA Finals and the World Series, but has barely been mentioned once in the NYT. Neither have ever mentioned Nightblue3 who has more than 100M views on Twitch.

To help put this into perspective, I put the following chart together, comparing the relative audience sizes of traditional media, online media and social platforms. Note that I cropped the largest eight so you can see the relative size of the tail. The red bars indicate social properties where the content is largely provided by the community, or in my parlance, platforms for self-expression and communication.

Audience JPG.001

Social and mobile have fundamentally altered attention. Platforms for self-expression and communication are the largest and most important media companies of the millenial age, dominating share of attention and engagement for young people. And the behavior of the young is predictive of the future. Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Tumblr, Snapchat, Reddit, WhatsApp, Instagram, Vine and YouNow were all catalyzed by teen use first, and later spread to older age groups. If you want to know which companies to bet on, just follow the attention.

David Pakman is a VC at Venrock, investing in pioneering early stage internet companies like Dollar Shave Club and YouNow. He is the former CEO of eMusic, co-founder of music locker pioneer MyPlay, and co-creator of Apple’s Music Group. Sources for this data: Alexa, eMarketer, Nielsen, Temkin Group, Statista, SNL Kagan, Experian, BLS.gov, MarketingCharts, Forrester, CrowdTap, Ipsos, Inmobi, Deloitte, Veronis Suhler, comScore, IAB, Flurry Analytics, AppAnnie, NetMarketShare and Simmons National Consumer Studies. Special thanks to Nurzhas Makishev for compiling and triangulating the data.

Source: http://www.pakman.com

Lyra Health: Tackling Behavioral Healthcare

By Bob Kocher and Bryan Roberts

Chances are, you or someone you love has faced a behavioral health issue that required help from a professional. Many of you, though too few given nearly 70% of people in need go undiagnosed and untreated, then found yourself attempting to navigate the system to identify the clinicians and services to match your needs, only to encounter a fragmented maze of information that is not specific, actionable, or up-to-date. With 50 million Americans suffering from behavioral health conditions – anxiety, depression, substance abuse – this is a massive problem. A massive problem that also leads to needless medical costs and complications for patients with untreated behavioral health conditions.

Today, Lyra Health emerged from stealth mode, with seed funding from Venrock. This company lies at the intersection of two of our favorite things: killer teams and large, difficult problems. Led by David Ebersman, Lyra is bringing together terrific talent from Castlight and LinkedIn to transform behavioral health to better serve patients, help patients get better faster, and to learn from the experiences and outcomes of each patient to benefit future patients.

Health IT has been booming recently with much of the focus on lowering healthcare costs by helping patients with chronic diseases get better medical care. Unfortunately, over 35% of these patients also suffer from behavioral health issues, which materially impedes the efficacy of their medical care, while dramatically increasing the associated costs. Working on improving behavioral health for them, as well as the millions of others who suffer from primary mental health issues, will improve health in these patients and spare billions in costs.

Lyra is going to change how people access and participate in their behavioral healthcare. The company will use software and service to bring the best solution to those in need. With each encounter, Lyra will get better at matching patients to providers, learning which approaches work most effectively, and when to intervene if patients are not improving. Like many of our other health IT investments – Athenahealth, Aledade, Doctor on Demand, Castlight, Grand Rounds, Stride Health, Zenefits – Venrock is lucky to partner with amazing entrepreneurs at the company’s formative stages in order to create a product and service that can help so many people.


Source: http://bobkocher.org

Lyra Health: Tackling Behavioral Healthcare

By Bob Kocher and Bryan Roberts

Chances are, you or someone you love has faced a behavioral health issue that required help from a professional. Many of you, though too few given nearly 70% of people in need go undiagnosed and untreated, then found yourself attempting to navigate the system to identify the clinicians and services to match your needs, only to encounter a fragmented maze of information that is not specific, actionable, or up-to-date. With 50 million Americans suffering from behavioral health conditions – anxiety, depression, substance abuse – this is a massive problem. A massive problem that also leads to needless medical costs and complications for patients with untreated behavioral health conditions.

Today, Lyra Health emerged from stealth mode, with seed funding from Venrock. This company lies at the intersection of two of our favorite things: killer teams and large, difficult problems. Led by David Ebersman, Lyra is bringing together terrific talent from Castlight and LinkedIn to transform behavioral health to better serve patients, help patients get better faster, and to learn from the experiences and outcomes of each patient to benefit future patients.

Health IT has been booming recently with much of the focus on lowering healthcare costs by helping patients with chronic diseases get better medical care. Unfortunately, over 35% of these patients also suffer from behavioral health issues, which materially impedes the efficacy of their medical care, while dramatically increasing the associated costs. Working on improving behavioral health for them, as well as the millions of others who suffer from primary mental health issues, will improve health in these patients and spare billions in costs.

Lyra is going to change how people access and participate in their behavioral healthcare. The company will use software and service to bring the best solution to those in need. With each encounter, Lyra will get better at matching patients to providers, learning which approaches work most effectively, and when to intervene if patients are not improving. Like many of our other health IT investments – Athenahealth, Aledade, Doctor on Demand, Castlight, Grand Rounds, Stride Health, Zenefits – Venrock is lucky to partner with amazing entrepreneurs at the company’s formative stages in order to create a product and service that can help so many people.