| || General Catalyst investor Hemant Taneja has become a Midas List fixture for investments all over the tech landscape: $95-billion-valued Stripe in fintech, Samsara in IoT and sensors, ClassDojo in ed tech. But it’s in healthcare — where Taneja helped launch Livongo, the diabetes monitoring company acquired by Teladoc for $18.5 billion — that last year’s No. 31 is spending much of his time. |
On Thursday, we broke the news of General Catalyst’s new $600 million fund in the sector, its first vertical-focused fund, and one that came on the heels of two $500 million SPACs in the space. Here, Taneja breaks down his interest in the space — and how to get involved — exclusively for readers of Midas Touch.
Eating nicely: Taneja’s “aha” moment from Livongo was that partnering with true domain expats and health systems unlocked the distribution and credibility for a startup to achieve scale without reinventing the wheel. “It’s not, ‘go disrupt,’” he says. “Every single thing I have done has been with a healthcare leader.” Software may be eating the world, but venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who recognize their own blind spots and seek out partners in the field they’re looking to modernize will spend far less time fighting traditionalists. “The magic is at the intersection,” Taneja says. “We don’t believe techies are going to just come disrupt healthcare.”
Fully onboard: To pull off a focused fund within a large ($8 billion AUM) firm like General Catalyst, the firm added a partner focused on the space full-time, Chris Bischoff, in London. But five or six of General Catalyst’s non-healthcare partners have taken board seats at companies in the category, Taneja says, with the goal of building up their own sector expertise (while sharing insights from their own areas of focus). “A lot of departments had to take this very seriously to say, ‘hey this is important, this is impactful, this is a place to generate great returns, so we want to chip in as well,’” he says.
Walk-ons welcome: While Taneja cautions against founders jumping into healthcare without expert guides, he does believe there’s plenty of room for non-doctors or medical researchers to still get involved in what he predicts as a historic period of growth to come in the next three to five years. “People that have wanted to get into this space, we generally send them on a walkabout and say, ‘hey, go talk to the following people so you really understand what’s going on,’ as opposed to just saying, ‘why is this so messed up, I can do it so much better with technology,’” Taneja explains. “There are reasons why things are the way they are. The most empathetic, service-oriented people get into healthcare. Look at what they dealt with during the pandemic, putting their lives at risk daily. Have empathy for that, and build with intentionality to empower them.”