The former chief executives who engineered the ill-fated AOL-Time Warner merger in 2000, Jerry Levin and Steve Case, are back in business together again.
This time around, they're partnering around a health and wellness venture, StartUp Health.
Levin, a board member for the health information startup OrganizedWisdom, is partnering with Startup America Partnership, a White House initiative chaired by Case to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in the US.
They're launching StartUp Health as a resource for healthcare entrepreneurs to access funding, information and education — and because health and wellness are topics near and dear to both their hearts.
“When you look around, all the entrepreneurial talent is going into certain sectors like the retail space. There is not a lot going towards health and wellness,” Levin told TechCrunch. “The disruptive locomotive of the net, which has disassembled every media business we know of, hasn’t taken over health or wellness.”
With a focus on new companies in the space, StartUp Health aims to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem comparable to what exists in gaming and social:
"A lot of the talent that is coming out of schools and being put to work today is going into gaming or social commerce. It's about getting the developers and investors to start putting their talent and money into this space in ways that will help us live healthier lives," OrganizedWisdom CEO Steven Krein told Fast Company. "There's clearly a huge opportunity here. We want to organize this movement."
That movement includes Health 2.0 health apps such as FitBit, an exercise-tracking app, and Fooducate, an app to promote nutrition, are the tip of the iceberg.
Levin and Case began discussing the public-private partnership at the South by Southwest conference earlier this year, as each of their lives led them to the health sector after leaving the AOL-Time Warner chapter behind.
Levin opened the Moonview Sanctuary, an upscale treatment center in Santa Monica, while Case acquired Wisdom TV, turned it into Lime and sold it to Gaiam.com, in addition to founding Revolution to invest in heath-related and other startups. On a personal note, Levin has been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, while Case lost his brother to cancer.
“It’s kind of nice to meet each other again,” Levin said of Case. “He knew of my interest in health care and given his family history he has reason to be really active in it too. Everyone has some kind of back story that relates to health care. It’s a universal thing.”
From the ashes of a corporate merger gone bad, an innovative and personally impassioned duo rise again — well-equipped to intermediate health and wellness in the digital game.