Call the Experts
Minority Report is a guest column by Sarah Kunst, who does business development and product at fashion app Kaleidoscope. She’s a black, non-engineer female in tech, but plans to IPO anyway.
Fortune magazine’s annual Brainstorm Tech summit is the Lincoln of conferences (the motor company is also a sponsor so kudos to them for nailing their demographic). Not the too-rich-for-its-own-good Bentley like Davos or the flashy Porsche that is TED. Rather, Brainstorm Tech brought together a lot of guys from Ivy League schools who work for companies with giant market caps and little buzz. They’re there to listen, network, and cut deals in one of the many hospitality tents at the Aspen Institute.
The listening part was easy as the speakers were relevant and quippy. Peter Thiel and Eric Schmidt went all Hunger Games for the crowd, trading blows on stage during dinner in what felt more like a sporting match than a debate about the future of technology. (You’ll have to excuse me if you already heard about their exploits, it takes a girl awhile to adjust back down to sea level.)
Former U.S. Senators Bill Frist, a doctor and former Senate majority leader, and Tom Daschle, author of Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis and former Senate minority leader, have both joined ZocDoc’s advisory board, the doctor appointment booking startup announced today.
“We very much view both these senators joining our advisory board as sort of welcoming ZocDoc to the party in terms of the healthcare establishment,” ZocDoc CEO Cyrus Massoumi told Betabeat. “We have big plans for how we want to help improve the healthcare system… we’re excited that we’re going to have the ears and the thoughts of people that really have shaped the healthcare system to date and helped to make it better.”
ZocDoc’s CEO Cyrus Massoumi has a soft spot for paper money. The ZocDoc offices sport a giant $100,000 vanity check from Forbes, which its founders debated taking into the bank when the actual money proved to be less than speedy in coming. But today’s $25 million investment from Goldman Sachs won’t come in the form of a check in any size. And it means the loss of a ZocDoc tradition, Betabeat learned after we got ahold of Mr. Massoumi’s memo to ZocDockers today:
ZocDoc just announced a surprise extra $25 million on top of the $50 million the startup recently raised from Yuri Milner and DST, and the money came from high places–Goldman Sachs is investing directly in ZocDoc. That is to say, not through Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and not through Goldman’s Principal Investment Area, but with money off its own balance sheets, ZocDoc CEO Cyrus Massoumi told Betabeat.
One of ZocDoc’s first angel investors works at Goldman Sachs in a “unique position,” Mr. Massoumi said. Goldman also manages some of ZocDoc’s finances, and can be expected to handle or at least advise them on any acquisitions ZocDoc might make in the future. Plus ZocDoc’s executives have personal friends at the firm, Mr. Massoumi said. (He and co-founder Dr. Oliver Kharraz used to be closer to that world–the two previously worked at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and continued to wear suits and ties after starting ZocDoc until a friend told them they looked too much “like consultants” to be entrepreneurs, which prompted them to hit the Gap.)
“We’re just really excited,” he said. “There is not a large healthcare institution domestically, perhaps internationally, that does not have a relationship with Goldman Sachs.”
Talks with Goldman started a few weeks ago, in a “mutual conversation,” after the DST investment, Mr. Massoumi said.
Betabeat dropped by ZocDoc‘s ninth floor Soho office this afternoon for some of the startup’s famous catered lunch–today, sandwiches and salads from TriBeCa eatery Peace and Love, which employees munched at the cafeteria-style tables, each topped with a bottle of Sriracha.
Betabeat grabbed a salad and followed COO Oliver Kharraz and communications director Allison Braley into the conference room, decorated with an oversized painting of CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta giving Bravo TV’s Dr. Gregory House a triumphant high five. “I keep meaning to tweet that picture,” Ms. Braley said. “That’d be a good tweet,” we agreed.
On Friday last week, ZocDoc had a birthday party. CEO Cyrus Massoumi gave a rousing speech, we were told, as did former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, for whom healthcare reform is a chosen cause. Mr. Daschle talked about how ZocDoc’s simple solution–easy online booking, updated in real time, as a way to fill all the holes in doctors’ schedules–could play an important role in industry reform. Mr. Daschle, who now works for global law firm DLA Piper, is still close to the current administration and remains knee-deep in the government-led healthcare reform effort, so his endorsement was no small praise.
THE FOUNDERS OF ZOCDOC.COM, Cyrus Massoumi and Dr. Oliver Kharraz, had just concluded the very first public demonstration of their medical appointment-booking app at the TechCrunch40 conference in September 2007 when they got a review that threatened to put the whole endeavor on life support.
“Honestly, it would just never occur to me to go to any site to pick a doctor,” said Guy Kawasaki, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, early Apple employee and venerable start-up guru, smiling and chopping the air with a pen. “I mean, it’s just sort of too facetious.”
Emphasizing once more that he would never use such a service, he turned to a fellow judge on the panel, the entrepreneur and philanthropist Esther Dyson, and elaborated, “You’d go to a site and just, ohhh, you know, Lisa Macintosh went to Harvard, she looks cute, I’ll have her operate on my heart!”
The audience responded with belly laughs.
ZocDoc just raised its $50 million Series Cool from DST Global, making the online booking and review site for doctors’ appointments the first New York investment by Facebook/Twitter/Zynga/Groupon investor DST Global.
ZocDoc offers five million available appointments across nine major metropolitan areas and “is in the midst of a nationwide rollout,” a DST rep said in an email. ZocDoc says it books about 700,000 appointments a month; the start-up was also named the best place to work in New York by Crain’s.