Livongo Health, which is tackling chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure with wearables, took a big step toward its goal of growing into a public company by hiring veteran health care technology executive Zane Burke as CEO.
Burke, 53, recently stepped down as president of Cerner, a publicly traded health IT company.
He’ll take over day-to-day operations from Glen Tullman, who remains executive chairman of the company, which has operations in Chicago and Silicon Valley.
The company also promoted Dr.
Jennifer Schneider from chief medical officer to president, where she’ll oversee product, data science, software engineering, marketing and clinical operations.
“I’d taken (the job at Cerner) as far as I could,” Burke said when asked why he took the new gig.
“I’ve known Glen since we competed with each other” when Tullman was CEO of medical-records software maker Allscripts.
Cerner is the nation’s second-largest maker of medical-records software used by hospitals and doctors’ offices.
It was a reseller of Livongo’s product, which used a cellular-enabled glucometer to help people with diabetes better manage the disease. The Kansas City, Mo.-based company also used Livongo for its own 28,000 employees.
Tullman has grown Livongo into a company valued at $800 million, raising another $105 million in August.
Investors include heavyweights Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, General Catalyst, Microsoft and Sapphire Ventures, the venture fund spinout of software giant SAP.
Health care technology is a hot sector, and Tullman has made no secret of his plans to take the company public, possibly early next year.
Livongo expanded from diabetes to high blood pressure, and it has begun building more data analytics into its product offering.
Livongo's Post-IPO Plans? - Glen Tullman, Livongo
But the main thrust of the business is helping companies save money by helping employees with chronic conditions stay on top of their health care through the use of simple technology that can keep them out of the hospital.
Tullman, whose son has lived with diabetes since age 8, is a passionate frontman. But what gets investors’ attention is his ability to sign up customers.
Livongo landed more than 500 of them, mostly large self-insured companies such as FedEx, Amazon, Lowe’s, Target and Delta Air Lines, along with four of the country’s seven largest insurers.
Burke, meanwhile, helped Cerner grow into a public company with $5 billion in sales and 28,000 workers from a startup with $150 million in sales and fewer than 1,000 employees in 1996.
“That’s almost exactly where Livongo is at today,” he said.
More recently, he helped oversee Cerner's $16 billion deal to replace the Department of Veterans Affairs' homegrown electronic health record system.
“I have experience working with the Street, and I know how to create a predictable organization,” Burke said.
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“This is not a fixer-upper. I wanted something that was going to impact the consumer. The more I got to know the team, it had all the right pieces.
We’re growing: The questions are how big, how fast and how to make that sustainable.”
If he can provide the answers, Livongo could have a very bright future. It would be the latest IPO of a Chicago health care company. Three others have gone public this year.