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1. Amazon Care offers its telemedicine & in-home healthcare service to other companies’ workforces
  • On Wednesday, Amazon announced that Amazon Care – the “virtual-first” on-demand healthcare service it has been piloting with its Seattle-region employees since Sep 2019 – will launch as a service for other US companies of all sizes. With the announcement, Amazon Care was opened up to other Washington-based companies first, with plans to roll out virtual care across all 50 states (including Amazon’s own employees) by the summer.
  • Amazon Care brings virtual and in-home primary and urgent care, as well as prescription delivery, to company employees and their families. Patients can connect 24/7 without appointment through the Amazon Care app (iOS/Android) to an Amazon Care-dedicated team of independent clinicians (Care Medical). Patients can typically connect with a clinician – available 365 days a year including holidays – via in-app messaging or video call within 60 seconds. Clinicians provide services such as diagnosing issues, prescribing medicine, and offering medical advice (e.g. sexual health, sleep assessment, evaluation of work-from-home setups). Patients may opt to see the same clinician again, building an ongoing relationship. Most health concerns are resolved virtually, and Amazon reports a 4.7 out of 5.0 post-visit satisfaction rating.
  • As with any space that Amazon enters, Amazon instantly becomes a player to watch. Its strategy tracks those of established incumbents such as Teladoc and Amwell – but it may be able to move faster in delivering on the industry’s vision of integrated physical-virtual care. Amazon’s access to consumers, familiar feel, and digital-forward experience are certainly hard to dismiss.
Related Content:
  • Nov 20 2020 (3 Shifts): Amazon Pharmacy launches on Amazon.com with free delivery and Prime-member discounts
  • Oct 15 2020 (Brief #39): Telemedicine, house calls & the new in-home healthcare
2. SEC will let startups raise up to $5M per year through equity crowdfunding
  • On Monday, the SEC put into effect new rules to “facilitate capital formation and increase opportunities for investors by expanding access to capital for small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs.” As part of the regulation, the SEC increased the amounts that businesses at differing levels of maturity can raise through equity crowdfunding.
  • The amendments to existing rules are segmented according to different sets of criteria. For instance, more established firms willing to abide by the SEC’s Regulation A accounting, legal, and reporting requirements saw their annual crowdfunding limit under a Tier 2 “mini-IPO” offering upped to $75M per year, up from $50M. Changes to Regulation D – which addresses companies raising strictly from accredited investors – doubled fundraising limits from $5M to $10M per year. Among the most impactful changes was the update to Regulation Crowdfunding (CF), which largely addresses startups and smaller businesses. Under the new rules, CF companies can now crowd-fundraise up to $5M per year, up from $1.1M.
  • The fine print of the Regulation CF amendments requires equity crowdfunding to take place online through an SEC-registered intermediary. Non-US issuers, blank-check SPACs, public companies, and investment firms are excluded from raising equity crowdfunding under Regulation CF. Both accredited and non-accredited investors (e.g. “friends and family” and individual investors) can invest, although non-accredited investors are subject to investment limits based on annual income or net worth. A notable change put into effect by the SEC is allowing companies interested in equity crowdfunding to “test the waters – i.e. put out information regarding a potential raise to gauge investor interest – before committing to a full offering.
  • This same week, other startups (e.g. Backstage, precursor SPC, R3 Printing) have taken advantage of the updated Regulation CF to initiate larger equity crowdfunding campaigns on crowd-investing platforms (e.g. WeFunder, StartEngine, SeedInvest). We should expect to see more early-stage startups forgo investment from traditional investors to tap the crowd for capital.
  • As retail investors funnel their savings into online investing platforms, the market is opening up a wider array of investment opportunities for them. Private-securities marketplaces such as CartaX and Zanbato have gained traction with shareholders of late-stage startups looking for liquidity, as well as investors seeking to share in the upside. Now, the new SEC rules are making it easier for startups to get off the ground without prior investor relationships (though, of course, a recognized brand and influencer involvement are always still helpful).
  • Trading platforms such as Republic, which on Wednesday raised $36M in funding of its own (from private investors), will also reap the benefits of more startups looking to fundraise on them. These dynamics are collectively moving influence further away from traditional powers in the space such as institutional investors.
  • For retail investors, there are inherent risks associated with the loosening of the regulations. Private-company investments lack the scrutiny of the IPO process – one of the reasons why non-accredited investors were previously barred from participation. Like SPACs and the meme stock craze, uninformed investors risk losing their shirts on unprofitable companies in frothy markets. A few startups that are equity fundraising will become the next unicorns. But if the VC “hit rate” is any indication, many will eventually fold – and take retail investors’ buy-in down to zero.
Related Content:
  • Dec 18 2020 (3 Shifts): Are Robinhood and the Fed propping up bubbles?
  • Sep 2 2020 (Brief #38): The future of the global stock exchanges
3. Is 3D printing going deeper into the healthcare mainstream?
  • To date, Desktop Metal has largely focused on 3D printing systems for metal and composite (e.g. fiberglass, carbon fiber) parts. Its 3D printing for metal is reportedly 100x faster than its competition. Desktop Metal’s customers sit in industries like automotive (e.g. Ford, BMW, Toyota), heavy industry (e.g. Eaton, US Navy), and consumer goods (e.g. 3M, Adidas).
  • In the near term, Desktop Health will tackle applications in dental, orthodontic, otolaryngology (head and neck), and surgical instruments. It is also researching future applications in orthopedics, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, and plastic surgery.
  • 3D printing has gone through a long and painful hype cycle, over the course of a decade coming and going as the next big consumer trend. Silently in the background, however, enterprise uses of 3D printing across industries continue to proliferate. After a pandemic-driven stutter in 2020, it may finally be reaching its “plateau of productivity” moment with a recent uptick of M&A consolidation.
  • Healthcare, in particular, has risen to the fore as an attractive and growing pool of applications in need of custom manufacturing. The global healthcare 3D-printing market is expected to surpass $3.5B by 2025 – up from $973M in 2020. For Desktop Metal – which is not yet profitable and saw only $27M in pre-pandemic revenue in 2019 (revenue declined in 2020 to $26M) – finding the right scale applications is essential in achieving long-term profitability.
  • Depending on the application, 3D printing firms charging into healthcare may have to wait for regulation and insurers to catch up before the market opportunity can fully materialize. Obtaining reimbursement and insurance coverage for personalized 3D-printed medical devices can be a challenge, and regulatory bodies are often slow to approve new materials (i.e. those being used in 3D printers) for medical uses.
Related Content:
  • Mar 5 2021 (3 Shifts): The future of RNA-based vaccines & therapies beyond COVID-19
  • Mar 16 2020 (Brief #26): The new HHS rules & shifting regulatory landscape around health data/AI
Disclosure: Amazon is a vendor of 6Pages.
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