Homelessness is widespread and hard to solve, affecting more than 560,000 people in the U.S. and hundreds of millions around the world. It's a complex and intractable problem, with countless agencies and nonprofits working to tackle root causes and provide systemic solutions. But while there may not be a one-size-fits-all formula for homeless people in every community, technology and innovation can help fill in the gaps. Gadgets, apps and prototypes are temporary fixes, of course -- we need to tackle poverty, lack of affordable housing, unemployment and more to truly arrive at solutions. But in the meantime, innovations can offer much-needed support to some of the world's most vulnerable populations.
Remote vital sign monitoring company Current Health (formerly snap40) has completed an $11.5 million Series A round of financing headed by MMC Ventures, the Edinburgh, London and San Francisco-based company announced this morning. Legal & General played a major role in the raise as the heaviest backer and Current's first corporate investor, with additional funds coming from Par Equity and Scotting Investment Bank. The primary device of Current's monitoring platform is an FDA-cleared upper-arm wearable that tracks skin temperature, pulse rate, oxygen saturation, movement and other metrics. Patients using the platform receive the tracker alongside a tablet that provides a Q&A chatbot, educational content, medication reminders and support for video or text conversations with a clinician. These clinicians, meanwhile, can follow their patients' vitals through a provider-facing interface and intervene when necessary.
Like a Kickstarter campaign, but instead of a memento or special access to the product, you get an actual share in the drug's potential future sales. Biotech firm Agenus wants to give you a chance--something it says is now possible thanks to blockchain technology. If all goes as planned, Agenus will soon become the first biotech company to issue a blockchain-based crypto-asset it calls a "digital security." According to the company's January announcement, this asset will represent "a portion of potential future US sales" of a drug called a PD-1 inhibitor, which is now in clinical trials. To begin with, regulatory constraints will limit the investment to wealthy investors and financial institutions.
These venture bets on startups that "returned the fund," making firms and careers, were the result of research, strong convictions, and patient follow-through. Here are the stories behind the biggest VC home runs of all time. In venture capital, returns follow the Pareto principle -- 80% of the wins come from 20% of the deals. Great venture capitalists invest knowing they're going to take a lot of losses in order to hit those wins. Chris Dixon of top venture firm Andreessen Horowitz has referred to this as the "Babe Ruth effect," in reference to the legendary 1920s-era baseball player. Babe Ruth would strike out a lot, but also made slugging records. Likewise, VCs swing hard, and occasionally hit a home run. Those wins often make up for all the losses and then some -- they "return the fund." "If you do the math around our goal of returning the fund with our high impact companies, you will notice that we need these companies to exit at a billion dollars or more," he wrote.
Regardless of whether iPhones sales are flat, much of the excitement and loyalty that's made Apple into a behemoth tech company comes directly from its products, so meticulously designed and engineered to be irresistible. Apple is a devices company and its lifeblood (and stock) depends on new products to dazzle. But Apple under CEO Tim Cook isn't the same company it was under Steve Jobs. Where Jobs was an expert showman, basking in the glory of his own "reality distortion field" and the purity Apple's products, Cook wields a more holistic approach when it comes to the company's hardware, software, and mission. New iPhones, iPads, and Macs will no doubt still incite rabid fanboyism, but buying an Apple device is becoming increasingly more than just about choosing a platform or brand.