Insights from the SOHN Conference

I attended the virtual SOHN Conference, which was focused on the healthcare space, there were 200+ people in attendance. Having seen this tweet by Josh Wolfe at Lux, one of the event organizers, I was intrigued with the lineup below. Typically these virtual conferences don’t have a cost or very minimal cost but this was an exception as they were raising money for a an important cause: “All proceeds of the September 23rd gathering will support Rockefeller University’s Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, who is developing a novel therapy for COVID-19”

I was hoping to see the battle royal between Keith Rabois of Founders Fund and Zach Weinberg of Flatiron Health, those who are on twitter too much would get the context 🙂

The battle didn’t materialize as they did separate fireside conversations with Josh, but I did find the talks interesting and gleaned some tidbits from it.

Zach, Co-Founded Flatiron Health, which was a massive $2B+ exit and many of us in NYC tech scene are proud of, he is also an active early stage investor. Zach indicated will spend the next 10 years of his career in healthcare. On the investment front, he indicated 30%-40% of his angel investments are in healthcare but that he is sector agnostic, he just wants to fund the best Founders out there. Josh asked Zach about what trends he is seeing with Founders that he is backing, which he answered, that Founders are carrying the traits of having both technical and business skills now (called them athletes who stretch up and down), something that was less seen in the past. Zach did address the beef with Keith, made his point that randomization is critical in healthcare trials but not critical in the software business (A/B testing/optimization), so that is likely the driver of the disagreement between the two. His perspective is that covid cases will spike this fall/winter 😦 . Lastly, during the opening remarks of the fireside chat between the two of them, Josh acknowledged that he passed on the investment opportunity in Flatiron Health and that is was a big miss for him. Josh had a hard time getting comfortable with a team that has a background in advertising/media (Founding Invite Media) jumping over to healthcare, oops 🙂

Josh had a conversation with Keith Rabois, who has a deep background in operating companies, being a Founder and Investor. Keith helped form Opendoor, which just went through a SPAC, but there wasn’t time to elaborate on that event. One of the topics they discussed is distributed teams who are working from home due to Covid, both indicated that teams that are able to get together in close physical proximity will have an advantage over teams that fully distributed. Josh asked him about being wrong or missing things, Keith did indicate that he had an opportunity to invest at the Seed and Series A round in Airtable and that it was a huge miss for him. Keith also declared that he is the most active lead investor in venture over the past seven years.

Josh also spoke with Bob Nelson of ARCH Ventures Partners. Bob is one of the most successful VCs out there and recently had a massive $8B+ exit in his portfolio. Bob also believes the covid cases will spike this fall/winter but is confident that there will be effective therapeutics available by year end. He invests in really far out ideas but one area that he is currently focused on is the supply chain and manufacturing in the life science sector. I’m not too familiar with that sector but that is an area I would be interested in hearing more about from Bob, but there wasn’t enough time to dig into that during the chat.

There were more tidbits shared, but these are some of the points that stood out to me. It was great to hear from all of them as they have great insights on the market and hopefully a lot of money was raised for Rockefeller University’s Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, who is developing a novel therapy for COVID-19.

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