Sources tell Valleywag that after housing and transportation, the latest slice of public infrastructure to get the VIP, front-of-the-line treatment is healthcare. We hear Oscar Salazar, the founding architect for Uber who helped design and implement the e-hailing prototype, is working on a startup that will offer personalized house calls from doctors. It plans to launch imminently.
Update: An Uber spokesperson emailed Valleywag to say that "Oscar is not a co-founder of Uber." The headline and description above have been edited to reflect that. However, the 2010 TechCrunch that we linked to refers to Salazar as a cofounder. That article was written by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who became an investor in Uber the very next year through CrunchFund.
As of last month, Salazar had at least 40 doctors lined up for the New York City-based company. "It will work like Uber, but with doctors coming to you. I mean it will start out for the 1%, clearly," said the source. Doctors make the house call and then direct you the emergency room, if necessary. The chance to invest in the stealth startup is "becoming a hot deal now," the source added.
Initially, I hear Salazar's venture would be called Housecall or Doctor Housecall. A trademark for "Housecall" was filed on June 24, 2013 for a similar sounding healthcare product using mobile devices and push notifications.
Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Computer software for coordinating health services, namely, software for the automated scheduling and dispatch of health service providers
IC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Telecommunications services, namely, routing calls, SMS messages, video calls, and push-notifications to local third-party health service providers the vicinity of the caller using mobile devicesIC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Providing a website featuring information regarding health services and scheduling for health services; Providing temporary use of online non-downloadable software for providing health services, bookings for health care services and dispatching health care providers to customers
Owner (APPLICANT) Techcare Inc CORPORATION DELAWARE 55 W 5th Avenue 18th floor, C/O 8an Capital New York NEW YORK 10044
The trademark was filed by Techcare Inc., a Delaware corporation, but c/o 8an Capital. Some digging into 8an Capital lead us to an investment firm called Abundance Partners, where Oscar Salazar is listed as an advisor. As it turns out 8an Capital is the "family office," i.e. an advisory firm for ultra-high net worth investors, for Philip Eytan. who also happens to an advisor at Abundance Partners. Eytan once worked as a VP at the high-profile private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, helping them invest in early stage tech companies like Livestream.com.
On Eytan's LinkedIn profile, he now describes himself as a cofounder and president at techCare Inc, which is "Providing a platform to allow house calls for doctors and patients."
Perhaps the company is doing business as techCare until they launch as Housecall? Archives show that the URL Housecall.com used to be redirect visitors to a site from another medical care company. Now it's just turning up a blank page.
Salazar's LinkedIn profile doesn't mention anything about techCare or Housecall. Rather he describes himself as the chief product officer of RIDE. However, Gleb Chuvpilo, who currently serves as the director of engineering at RIDE, says he's been an advisor to techCare Inc. since May. I've contacted Salazar and Eytan and will update the post when we hear back.
As the mythology of Uber's rebel libertarian faction takes shape, Salazar's name has been lightly erased from the history books. These days CEO Travis Kalanick, who stepped down as head of the company for a time, and Garret Camp are the only ones called cofounders.
Regardless, Uber has been the most successful startup to popularize the idea that technology can solve gaping holes in civic infrastructure—for those that can afford it. So the involvement of Uber's "founding architect" will no doubt bring a fanfare of attention and funding, especially after the disastrous rollout of healthcare.gov.
According to our source, Housecall (or whatever it's called) may start with the 1 percent:
"...well paid doctors going to rich people. But most illness is solved quickly over the internet and such. Imagine the Uber X [lower cost option] scenario of Housecall. Someone out of school with training coming over for $50 instead of $500 bucks to evaluate and decide whether you need more attention. It will get tricky if someone misdiagnoses, but no more tricky than a hospital. This is why i think out of all the Uber for X co's, this is the most viable"
Housecall isn't even the first New York startup to reanimate the 1950's doctor at your doorstep model. Jay Parkinson, the hipster version of the Hippocratic oath, started a healthcare company called Sherpaa that began by selling 24/7 customized care to coddled Tumblr employees over the Internet.
Just last week, Oscar Health, the most high profile of all the New York contenders, announced that it had raised another $30 million in capital, led by Peter Thiel's Founders Fund. That brings its total funding to $75 million since July, so roughly 10 millie a month. Other investors include Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures and General Catalyst Partners. Foursquare cofounder Naveen Selvadurai is working on product for the company.
According to Dealbook, the new funding was because Oscar Health "had thousands of customers and tens of millions of dollars in revenue," not because it had a high burn rate. Currently, the product is only available through New York State's health insurance exchange, but that hasn't stopped Kushner from giving it that future perfect solutionism sheen:
Oscar still charges deductibles and monthly payments. But the company focuses on offering other services intended to make life easier for patients, including free generic drugs, free calls to doctors and a handful of free primary care appointments.
The start-up also focuses on design and technology, including an online search function that lets patients type in their symptoms in natural language, then being steered to a doctor that suits their needs.
To Mr. Kushner, such services are meant to undercut the idea of insurance companies as faceless middlemen. "People just don't have a relationship with this kind of entity," he said. "The existing players don't care about satisfying the customer."
Is there any problem that a good user experience can't solve?
To contact the author of this post, please email email@example.com.
[Image via Shutterstock.com]