Welltok Raises $22 Million in Series C Funding, Including IBM Investment to Fuel Watson-Powered Health App Financing led by NEA to accelerate market expansion and product development
DENVER, Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Welltok, Inc., developer of the CaféWell Health Optimization Platform, today announced it has raised $22.1 million in Series C funding led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with new participation from IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Qualcomm Incorporated, through its venture capital arm, Qualcomm Ventures' life fund portfolio.
This is IBM's first direct investment from the recently formed Watson Group, and supports its partnership with Welltok to build CaféWell Concierge, a new application infused with Watson's cognitive computing capabilities. Welltok's app will call upon Watson's unique ability to uncover insights from Big Data by understanding the complexities of human language, reading millions of pages of data within seconds and improving its own performance by learning.
Additional participants in the round include existing investors Emergence Capital Partners, InterWest Partners, Miramar Venture Partners and Okapi Venture Capital. This brings Welltok's funding in the last nine months to more than $40 million, making it one of the past year's best capitalized digital health companies.
Welltok's Health Optimization Platform, CaféWell, is gaining significant traction with population health managers by solving two key challenges: organizing the expanding ecosystem of health and wellness solutions (apps, condition management programs, tracking devices, content, etc.) and delivering an engaging consumer platform that aligns activities with incentives, such as premium reductions for taking actions that lower Body Mass Index (BMI). CaféWell accomplishes this through the use of Social Health Itineraries that are personalized based on an individual's health status, available benefits, behavioral characteristics, interests and other factors.
"We must transform beyond the current 'sickcare' system built for patients to one that optimizes each consumer's health status. To do so, the industry needs a practical, but radically different approach to engage the 85 percent of the nation's population who are making daily choices that impact their health," said Jeff Margolis, chairman and CEO of Welltok. "Our Platform as a Service solution meets this need by revolutionizing the way population managers partner with consumers and connecting them to the right resources and incentives. We have the vision, industry expertise and financial strength to lead the charge in optimizing consumers' health and maximizing rewards."
The additional capital will be used to:
- Develop the new CaféWell Concierge product line, powered by IBM Watson, to address consumers' questions about their health conditions and activities through personalized dialogue and guide them via Intelligent Health Itineraries. Watson will learn which itineraries or rewards are most successful in helping consumers reach health goals and refine recommendations accordingly.
- Expand CaféWell's market-specific solutions for health plans, accountable care organizations, health systems, insurance brokers and exchanges, and consumer-facing health population managers.
- Enhance the CaféWell Connect program to include new partners that are creating communities, innovative condition management and wellness programs, tracking devices and applications.
"We are excited to lead Welltok's new round of expansion capital and believe that its success to date promises enormous potential going forward," said Mohamad Makhzoumi, head of NEA's healthcare IT investing practice. "As Welltok's vision and the market are rapidly converging, the company is poised to drive optimal health for millions of consumers while delivering significant value for the healthcare system."
"Watson is one of IBM's most prized innovations, and by sharing it with organizations like Welltok, we aim to fuel a new ecosystem that accelerates creativity and entrepreneurial spirit," said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson Group. "This investment and partnership represent IBM's dedication to fueling innovation that improves lives and our mission to advance the field of health care into the new era of cognitive computing."
IBM recently created the Watson Group to advance new cognitive computing capabilities. As part of the new group, IBM is investing $100 million to spur innovation for entrepreneurial organizations – ranging from start-ups and VC-backed companies to established players – who, like Welltok, will collectively bring forward a new generation of applications and solutions infused with Watson's cognitive computing intelligence.
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About Welltok®, Inc.
Welltok, Inc., the industry's leading health optimization company, is revolutionizing the way population health managers align consumer activities and behaviors with the right incentives and rewards. CaféWell, the company's flagship Health Optimization Platform™, enables access to an organized ecosystem of programs and resources and drives engagement though a novel combination of social, gaming and personalization technologies. This unique approach, delivered via a Platform as a Service model, enhances revenue growth, increases administrative efficiency and drives improved health care value.
Follow Welltok on Twitter @welltok and @_JeffMargolis, and use the hashtag #optimizedhealth to join the social discussion.
About IBM Watson
Nearly three years after its triumph on the television quiz show Jeopardy!, IBM has advanced Watson from a game-playing innovation into a commercial technology. Using natural language processing and analytics, Watson processes information akin to how people think, representing a major shift in an organization's ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to Big Data. Now delivered from the cloud and able to power new consumer and enterprise services and apps, Watson is 24 times faster, smarter with a 2,400 percent improvement in performance, and 90 percent smaller – IBM has shrunk Watson from the size of a master bedroom to three stacked pizza boxes.
Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Watson was developed in IBM's Research labs and is now being accelerated into market by the new Watson Group. As part of the group, IBM is investing $1 billion to introduce a new class of cognitive computing services, software and apps, and investing $100 million to spur innovation for software application providers to develop a new generation of Watson-powered solutions. Watson's ability to answer complex questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence is transforming decision-making across a variety of industries, including health care, financial services and retail.
To join the social discussion about Watson include the hashtag #ibmwatson.
For more insights on this story please read these posts on IBM's A Smarter Planet blog: http://ibm.co/M5DbIs.
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Erica Sniad Morgenstern
SOURCE Welltok, Inc.