iCarbonX teardown. East-West deals. BAT in insurance.
East Side To The West Side
In healthcare, the lines between East and West are blurring, and that’s most apparent in genomics. The discipline’s origins are international in nature, with the Human Genome Project establishing a consortia of scientists from the US, UK, China and more.
That international bent continues with notable recent deals including BGI-Shenzhen acquiring sequencer Complete Genomics, early-stage cancer detection company GRAIL merging with Hong-Kong based Cirina, and 23andMe receiving investment from Wuxi NextCODE.
Stealthy Chinese personalized health unicorn iCarbonX has been notoriously active here. Claiming to be a “multi-omics” company that gathers massive amounts of data from different companies, its investments include AOBiome and a $100M round into patient community site PatientsLikeMe.
As both China and the US seek to boost personalized medicine they’ll need a massive and diverse genotype and phenotype dataset so we’ll probably see more cross-border deals. That said, the US government has voiced concerns about patient data leaving the country. US regulators have blocked past large tech deals for national security reasons, so it’s possible they’ll get involved here too.
I’m still particularly interested in Alibaba’s short-term health insurance play through its payment app, Alipay. If you participate in the scheme, every time you use the payment app, a portion of the spend goes to “critical illness insurance” which covers a certain number of diseases if you get them within a year.
One way to differentiate a relatively commoditized service (like payments) is to bundle it with other things people need (like insurance coverage). There are several regulatory reasons why this approach probably wouldn’t make it to the US, but it’s something worth keeping an eye on. This is a channel though which other e-commerce (*hint hint*) or payment giants might conceivably enter the healthcare/insurance space.
P.P.S For clients, some of the CB Insights team including myself will be in San Francisco later next week through 12/14 for our Councils and A-ha! conferences. Would be great to meet up if you’re free.