Digital healthcare is all the rage in Covid-19 times. But not everyone is invited to the party

Venture capital has overflowed with interest in digital health since the pandemic forced patient care into the realm of the bits and the bytes.

But not all startups are getting the same treatment.

Proteus Digital Health, once valued as much as $1.5 billion, has been building a digestible sensor that tracks whether patients have taken their medications. Over the course of nearly two decades, it has raised more than $420 million from investors including The Carlyle Group, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Medtronic, OrbiMed, and Novartis on that pitch (per data from Pitchbook).

Earlier this week, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

Even prior to the onset of the pandemic, the pre-revenue health tech company struggled to raise additional funding and furloughed the majority of its employees for two weeks in November, per CNBC—highlighting the issue of integrating digital therapies within the existing hierarchy (think pharmaceutical companies, regulators, and insurers). An important licensing agreement with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals meanwhile fell apart earlier this year. The coronavirus, the company says, only made matters worse.

“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created significant uncertainty in the capital markets and frustrated [Proteus’] efforts,” the filing read, adding that Proteus has held “fruitful discussions” with Otsuka and other parties regarding a potential sale.

Blued: Despite skepticism regarding the IPO of Chinese companies and the grey area LGBTQ rights hold in the middle kingdom, Blued, China’s biggest gay dating app, has filed for an initial public offering in the U.S.—amid Pride month no less. The company posted $107.2 million in revenue for 2019 and losses of $96.6 million. Shunwei Capital (12.3% pre-offering) backs the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “BLCT.”

China, where Blued’s main business resides, has recently indicated that it may reconsider its stance same-sex marriage, which is currently illegal in the country. Read more.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: [email protected]

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