The 20 billion-dollar startups to watch that are revolutionizing healthcare in 2020

  • 2020 is shaping up to be a bumpy year for startups as they navigate the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Even so, through the first half of the year, healthcare startups managed to raise hundreds of millions, with some hitting unicorn status. 
  • There are 20 healthcare startups that have reached unicorn status, or the $1 billion and over valuation mark, according to valuations determined by PitchBook, CB Insights, and Business Insider's reporting.
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2020 is gearing up to be a pivotal year for healthcare and biotech startups.

In 2019, a handful of health startups went public with valuations above $1 billion. Then, the year started off with one public offering, when One Medical made its stock-market debut at the end of January, surging to a $2.7 billion valuation on its first day of trading.  

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare startups have found themselves having to navigate a new challenge. Some have tackled the crisis head-on, and some — often simultaneously — have found themselves laying off portions of their workforce. 

In the first quarter of 2020, healthcare startups raised $14.6 billion, up from the $13.5 billion the companies raised in the same period of 2019.

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This article was updated on July 9 to add VillageMD and to include new funding for Oscar Health. It was previously updated to remove Alto Pharmacy.

Rani Therapeutics – $1 billion

The biotech startup Rani Therapeutics is taking on a problem that has eluded companies for decades — finding a way to turn injectable drugs into pills for people living with chronic conditions. The approach has the potential to upend billion-dollar markets for drugs such as insulin and treatments, like Humira, for autoimmune conditions.  

The San Jose, California, company raised $53 million in February from Alphabet's venture-investment arm GV. To date, Rani has raised $142 million.

Hims – $1.1 billion

Be it depression, hair loss, or erectile dysfunction, Hims wants men to "take care of themselves" without fear of stigma via its suite of telemedicine and personal care offerings.

Besides online primary care visits and therapy, it sells hair, skin, and sex products directly to consumers. Its sister site, Hers, offers similar services for women. Hims raised $100 million in its Series C funding round at the end of last year, bringing its total cash to $197 million, according to a spokesperson for the company.

Its investors include Atomic, Maverick Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Founders Fund, 8VC, and Redpoint Ventures. 

Read more: Hot startups like Hims and Roman are marketing Viagra to young men online, but their approach raises 2 big questions

Clover Health – $1.2 billion

Clover Health sells Medicare Advantage health-insurance plans. When people in the US turn 65, they can choose to be part of traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage, which is operated through private insurers like Clover and often provides additional healthcare benefits. The hope for San Francisco-based Clover and other technology-based health insurers is to use data to improve patients' health.

Clover lost $67.4 million in 2019, according to state insurance filings reviewed by Business Insider. That compares to a $40.9 million loss in 2018. 

Clover is growing its membership, adding roughly 10,000 new members in 2019, and enrolling an additional 12,000 going into 2020.

2019 was a big year for Clover. In March 2019, the company said it was laying off 25% of its workforce, or about 140 employees, as part of a restructuring. That came on the heels of Clover raising $500 million in January 2019, bringing the total funds the company has raised to $925 million.

Its most recent valuation was $1.2 billion, according to PitchBook data from before the $500 million round.

Read more: We just got a look at the latest financials for health startups like Bright and Oscar. They reveal the challenges facing the insurers as they keep growing their footprints.

Rakuten Medical – $1.2 billion

Headquartered in San Diego, Rakuten Medical develops precision-targeted cancer therapies designed to treat solid tumors. 

The biotech is led by the Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, who is also founder and CEO of the large Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten. Mikitani said he was inspired to fund the cancer research after his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012.

Rakuten Medical has raised about $471 million, according to PitchBook. Both Mikitani and Rakuten have invested in Rakuten Medical.

Lyell – $1.2 billion

The San Francisco biotech company is focused on treating cancer with cell therapies. Lyell's goal is to develop cell-based immunotherapies for cancer, with a focus on CAR-Ts and solid tumors.

In March, the company raised a total $493 million in funding from undisclosed investors. The company has raised a total of $851 million, according to CB Insights, from investors including Foresite Capital Management, Arch Venture Partners, and Altitude Life Science Ventures.


Butterfly Network – $1.3 billion

Butterfly Network, a company that developed an iPhone-based ultrasound device, wants to make the technology more accessible to doctors and healthcare workers so they can make more precise diagnoses on the move. 

The device, called Butterfly iQ, plugs into the iPhone and isn't much bigger than the phone itself. It's been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in imaging the abdomen, bladder, and heart. 

In September 2018, Butterfly raised $250 million from investors such as Fidelity, Fosun Pharma, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In total, the company's raised $370 million. 

HeartFlow – $1.6 billion

HeartFlow is trying to make the process of finding blockages in the heart a lot less invasive. Using imaging from a CT scan, HeartFlow builds a 3D model that pinpoints the blockages associated with coronary-artery disease, a heart condition that affects millions of Americans and is the leading cause of death in the US. 

HeartFlow is based in Redwood City, California, and reached unicorn status in 2018 after raising $240 million. In total, the company has raised $532 million. 

Zocdoc – $1.8 billion

Zocdoc helps patients book doctors' appointments and check in for them — everything from primary care to dental to optometry appointments.

Users can search based on procedures, conditions, and even a particular doctor they might want to book an appointment with.

In 2019, the company changed the way it pays its doctors in some states, moving from a subscription model to one that charges a per-booking fee. Some doctors haven't been happy about the switch.

Zocdoc, which is based in New York, most recently raised $130 million in a Series D round in August 2015, bringing its total raised to $223 million. The company's last reported valuation is from 2015, according to PitchBook.

As part of the pandemic, Zocdoc introduced video visits for the providers on its platform to use with patients. 

Devoted Health – $1.8 billion

Devoted Health wants to reinvent how we care for aging Americans.

The company started selling Medicare Advantage plans in parts of Florida for 2019. In its second year, its enrollment jumped, in line with the company's expectations. 

The company's plans might look a bit different from traditional insurance in that Devoted plans to do more than pay for visits to doctors and hospitals. It's also hiring nurses and other employees directed at keeping seniors healthier and out of the hospital.

Devoted was founded in 2017 by brothers Ed and Todd Park. Before Devoted, Todd Park cofounded the health IT company Athenahealth and served as the chief technology officer of the US during the Obama administration. Ed Park, who serves as Devoted's CEO, was formerly the chief technology officer and later chief operating officer at Athenahealth.

In October 2018, the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company raised $300 million in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz, bringing its total funding to $369 million.

Read more: We got a look at the slide deck that buzzy startup Devoted Health used to hit a $1.8 billion valuation before it signed up any customers

Bright Health – $2.2 billion

Bright Health provides health plans for people under the Affordable Care Act and to seniors in Medicare Advantage.

It was founded in 2016 and has raised more than $1 billion after closing a $635 million round in December. A representative for the company declined to provide its updated valuation, though according to Pitchbook, the valuation is $2.2 billion.

Minneapolis-based Bright Health posted a net loss of $41.8 million for 2019, a deeper net loss than the $17.5 million loss the company had in 2018. The company made $208.5 million in revenue and recorded $176 million in medical claims, spending about 84% of the premiums it took in on medical expenses.

In total, Bright had nearly 59,000 members by the end of 2019, the majority of which were on plans bought in the ACA's individual markets.

Bright in January announced plans to acquire Brand New Day, a health plan that gave it a big foothold in the Medicare Advantage market. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the acquisition officially closed on May 1. 

The company said in July 2019 that it would operate in parts of 12 states in 2020, roughly double its geographic footprint for 2019. The Brand New Day acquisition brings that count to 13.  

Read more: $2.2 billion Bright Health just struck a deal to buy a health plan and gain a big foothold in the lucrative Medicare Advantage market

23andMe – $2.5 billion

In 2018, 23andMe, a company best known for its genetics tests designed to tell you information as varied as the amount of Neanderthal DNA you have and your health risks, gained a higher valuation after striking a $300 million deal with drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

The company, founded in 2006, has millions of customers and a number of partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies. With GSK, 23andMe has a 4-year-long development deal to use the data 23andMe has collected to discover and develop new medications. Using 23andMe's data, GSK is also working on an experimental drug to treat Parkinson's disease in patients with a particular mutation. 

But the consumer genetics market has been facing a big slowdown this year, leading the company to lay off 100 employees. Its rival, Ancestry, also laid off roughly 100 employees. In the wake of the pandemic, 23andMe has been studying genetic associations to find links between genetics and the severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. 

To date, 23andMe has raised $792 million. 

Read more: The DNA testing industry is stuck in a rut. Here's how 23andMe and Ancestry are plotting their next moves.

GoodRx – $2.8 billion

GoodRx gathers drug prices at more than 70,000 pharmacies across the US and compares them on its site, according to the company. It's generated more than $18 billion in savings, saving the average customer about $355 per year, according to GoodRx. 

But what started as a one-stop shop for drug price comparisons is moving into telehealth. Last year, GoodRx acquired a telehealth startup for an undisclosed amount and now offers online care via HeyDoctor by GoodRx. Most visits are about $20 and don't require insurance. 

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the site also came up with a way to compare the costs of online doctor visits as more people seek healthcare from the safety of their homes. 

Worth $2.8 billion, the Santa Monica-based startup's investors include Silver Lake, Francisco Partners, and Spectrum Partners. 

Read more: $2.8 billion pharmacy startup GoodRx just got into the business of prescribing medications, and it shows how a long-hyped technology is taking off in healthcare

Oscar Health – $3.2 billion

New York-based health insurer Oscar Health sells insurance in the individual exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act and to small businesses. Going into 2020, Oscar had enrolled 420,000 people, a 63% increase from the start of 2019.

It entered a new market in 2020, offering private Medicare Advantage plans to seniors.

Read more: Buzzy health startup Oscar is making a big bet on a crucial change to how you get your healthcare. The CEO shared how he thinks that will happen.

Oscar has raised nearly $1.5 billion from investors enticed by its promise of a new tech-driven approach to health insurance. The company most recently raised $225 million in June from investors including Alphabet, General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Baillie Gifford, and Coatue.

As of March 2018 — prior to two more recent rounds of funding —  PitchBook valued the company at $3.2 billion. 

Read more: We just got a look at the latest financials for health startups like Bright and Oscar. They reveal the challenges facing the insurers as they keep growing their footprints.

VillageMD- $3.3 billion

Chicago-based VillageMD was founded in 2013 with the idea of giving primary care doctors more resources to help them manage the care of their patients. 

Rather than get paid based on the number of visits doctors have with patients, VillageMD works with insurers so that it gets paid based on how well it cares for patients, adding in monitoring services, transportation, and other ways to keep patients healthier.

In July, VillageMD said it will open 500 to 700 primary-care clinics in partnership with Walgreens. As part of the deal, Walgreens made an initial $250 million equity investment in VillageMD and plans to invest $1 billion in total over the next three years in equity and convertible debt. That'll give Walgreens a 30% stake in the company by the end of the investment and values VillageMD at at least $3.3 billion. 

Prior to Walgreens' investment, VillageMD had raised $216 million from investors including Kinnevik and Oak HC/FT. Kinnevik invested an additional $25 million in July as part of the Walgreens investment, bringing the total raised by VillageMD to $491 million.

Read more: Walgreens just made a $1 billion bet on bringing doctor's offices into its pharmacies, and it shows how the pharmacy giant is taking on CVS and Walmart as they beef up their health ambitions

Grail – $3.87 billion

Since it got its start in 2016, Grail has raised more than $1.75 billion from the likes of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, along with big names from the pharmaceutical, tech, and healthcare industries, including Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Arch Venture Partners, Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, and Merck.

The idea behind its cancer-screening test is to identify the tiny bits of cancer DNA that are hanging out in our blood but are undetectable. If companies like Grail are successful, they would be the first to pull off a cancer-detecting blood test that works proactively.

The concept is similar to liquid biopsy tests, which use blood samples to sequence genetic information in that blood to figure out how tumors are responding to a certain cancer therapy. In 2017, Grail acquired Cirina, a Hong Kong company that is also looking at early cancer detection.

On May 6, Grail said it raised an additional $390 million in funding. In total, the company's raised $1.9 billion. The company has started presenting data, including some on early-stage lung-cancer detection, and has started releasing some of its results from its early-stage multi-cancer-detection tests. 

Ginkgo – $4 billion

Ginkgo Bioworks is a startup that designs microbes to produce substances like fragrances and medications. The Boston-based company sends the programmed bugs to partner companies that put them to use.

In September, Ginkgo raised an additional $290 million. In total, the company has raised $719 million and a $350 million fund to invest in spinout companies that use its technology. 

Intarcia Therapeutics — $4.1 billion

Intarcia Therapeutics, a Gates Foundation-backed biotech, is developing implantable devices intended to treat conditions like Type 2 diabetes and prevent HIV.

In September 2018, the FDA put the Boston-based company's plans for its diabetes implant on hold, citing manufacturing concerns. The company resubmitted the implant for approval in September.

In March, the company raised $73 million of convertible debt funding from undisclosed investors. To date, the company's raised $2 billion. 

Tempus — $5 billion

Chicago-based Tempus got its start in 2015, and then rocketed into unicorn territory.

The startup, which was founded by Groupon founder Eric Lefkofsky, hopes to help doctors use data to find better cancer treatments for patients, using both clinical data — information about which medications patients have taken and how they responded to them — and data it sequences in its lab based on the tumors and hereditary genetics of cancer patients.

Tempus raised $200 million in Series F venture funding from Novo Holdings, Revolution Group, and New Enterprise Associates in May 2019 and raised an additional $100 million in March 2020. So far, the company has raised a total of $620 million. 


Roivant – $7 billion

Roivant Sciences is a company known for developing drugs that other pharmaceutical companies have abandoned.

The company was founded by CEO Vivek Ramaswamy, who's 34. Through its subsidiary companies, it identifies experimental drugs that other companies may have stopped developing for one reason or another that still have potential to get approved and go on the market.

So far, it has launched 17 subsidiary "-vant" companies, including a number that have gone public. Those include the neurodegenerative-disease-drug developer Axovant Sciences, the women's health company Myovant Sciences, and the urology company Urovant Sciences.

In December, the company entered a deal with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma. Before that, the company had raised $200 million from investors a little more than a year after raising $1.1 billion in a monster round led by SoftBank's Vision Fund. The $200 million round valued the company at $7 billion. 


Samumed – $12.4 billion

Samumed is the highest-valued startup on this list.

The San Diego-based company has attracted a total of $764 million and a heady valuation thanks to a pipeline of what could be revolutionary treatments to regenerate hair, skin, bones, and joints.

The company's science hinges on something called progenitor stem cells. Samumed hopes to manipulate the pathway that makes these progenitor stem cells spring into action so that they don't cause conditions like hair loss or osteoarthritis. 

The company had previously raised funding from backers including high-net worth people and sovereign funds rather than venture capital. Samumed's chief business officer, Erich Horsley, said in May 2018 that the company could go public in the next three to four years.

Read more about Samumed's progress with these treatments.

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Healthcare Explained:

Telehealth Industry
Value-Based Care
Senior Care & Assisted Living Market
Medical Devices & Wearable Tech
AI in Healthcare
Remote Patient Monitoring
AI in Medical Diagnosis

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