Tendo Systems’ vision for transforming healthcare

Tom Paine

Tendo Systems Builds Radical Collaborations to Help Transform Healthcare” is the headline of Tendo Systems’ introductory press release. It certainly sets forth a vision of a different approach to delivering healthcare, aiming to break out of the mold..

Not that others haven’t had similar visions.

One example is Haven, the joint venture between Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase, which decided to dissolve at the beginning of 2021. The partners seemed happier pursuing their own separate initiatives.

While breadth of vision is great, my guess is a startup that concentrates on a few closely related processes at first has the best chance to succeed. Though a degree of integration across functions is important.

Tendo, founded by longtime Chester County residents (and siblings) Dan & Jennifer Goldsmith, is a Philly-based company, though its somewhat virtual right now. A few years back, the Goldsmiths played important roles at Veeva Systems, working on innovative new cloud.products that helped Veeva’a valuation grow to $40 billion today. (Much of Silicon Valley-based Veeva’s product development came out of its Radnor office.)

Then the Goldsmiths went on to run Utah-based learning management system (LMS) platform Instructure, with Dan as CEO and Jennifer as Chief Strategy Officer. But that came to an end in early 2020, as the Instructure board accepted a $2 billion buyout offer from Thoma Bravo which involved a change in direction.Then they spent a year planning for what would become Tendo Systems.

During the same period, west coast VC firm General Catalyst (which has huge stakes in healthcare; Livongo, Oscar, BrightInsight are examples) managing director Hemant Taneja got to know Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO of Philly-based Jefferson Health. The two co-authored a book, UnHealthcare: A Manifesto for Health Assurance, preaching a collaboration between traditional academic health system and Silicon Valley venture investment. 

Besides co-authoring the book, the two collaborated on forming a SPAC, along with ex-Livongo execs who sold Livongo for $18.5 billion . Health Assurance Acquisition Corp is said to be targeting a San Francisco-based healthcare tech company to merge with.

They also got to know the Goldsmiths.

Tendo marketing chief Carla Ray described the process which led Jefferson to go beyond its previous approach to innovation, DICE (digital innovation and consumer experience team) to engaging with Tendo:

DICE served Jefferson well for a number of years and set a new benchmark for Innovation both at Jefferson and in the industry.  The work done in DICE informed Jefferson’s thinking on how to innovate moving forward.  The model for innovation at Jefferson beyond DICE was envisioned to be a blend of internal teams that know Jefferson and healthcare well combined with leading technology industry expertise.  This allows for building solutions that can be much more impactful, scaled, and industrial strength.  It will also accelerate technology solutions, provided better roadmap and focus on continued growth and enhancements, and facilitate more radical collaboration across the industry.  Jefferson met the Goldsmiths, who were already in the process of building Tendo, through the relationship with General Catalyst.  Tendo, GC, and Jefferson realized that there was a shared vision and great opportunity to partner.  That led to the foundational partnership that was recently announced.  Tendo also hired a number of people from the former DICE team which established a nice anchor for the team in Philly.  Tendo is working with Jefferson as the first foundational customer, but is engaged more broadly across the industry and with a set of additional foundational customers.

General Catalyst is at this point the sole institutional backer of Tendo. The funding is significant; no one will say how much but it sounds like Tendo won’t have to go back to raising capital anytime soon (unless they need to acquire). Jefferson, through its Jefferson Strategic Ventures, has not invested though it may be constrained by its own financial pressures.

Jefferson has had a revenue share interest in Livongo from a marketing fee.

Tendo is ramping up quickly, with around 35 people already onboard with plans to reach 100 by year end. Tendo is designed around the healthcare consumer’s vantage point, not that of the healthcare organizations he or she is connected to. An app would eventually interface with multiple healthcare organizations, with the possibility of the consumer seeing one view across electronic health records from different institutions. (Google is working on that, but for the clinician rather than the patient.) Jefferson will serve as the first healthcare organization that Tendo is collaborating with.

Jennifer Goldsmith, whom I spoke with, thinks of Tendo as “a digital engagement platform for patients, clinicians, and caregivers.” The venture plans to address “pain points”, or points of friction, in consumer healthcare. Appointment scheduling, followups, and other processes would be streamlined. My guess is Tendo will start with a few functions and add more over time.

“Large-scale transformation requires bold vision, strong execution, and deep collaboration across multiple healthcare constituencies,” said Dan Goldsmith, CEO of Tendo, in a press release. “Tendo is proud to partner with organizations like Jefferson Health and General Catalyst as we work together to make healthcare more connected, accessible, and equitable.”

Jennifer Goldsmith indicated that some product will be out by late 2021.



Philly startup Tendo Systems is still in stealth

UPDATE 3/14/21: This November article in the Philadelphia Business Journal describes what’s going on at Tendo Systems, though the name hadn’t been revealed publicly yet at the time.

Jefferson Health and VC firm General Catalyst are backing Tendo. “The goal is to try to build a defining software company for health care that has the DNA of an elite health care company like Jefferson and the DNA of an elite technology company like ours,”  Hemant Taneja, managing director of General Catalyst, told the Business Journal.

Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health and president of Thomas Jefferson University, is involved in the Jefferson /General Catalyst partnership.

“We have created a digital health company that will be based in Philadelphia and [focus on] health assurance for people across the country,” Klasko told PBJ.. “The center of the universe for this will not be in the Silicon Valley, it will be in Philadelphia.”

Its important to understand that General Catalyst is not only acting as a typical VC firm, but is working with Jefferson to help plan the venture before it launches.

Klasko and Taneja co-authored a book last year, UnHealthcare: A Manifesto for Health Assurance, describing their joint vision.

Tom Paine

There’s a new digital health startup based in Philly that may turn out be a big deal. Its got a name now but is still in stealth, with 24 employees listed on LinkedIn. Named Tendo Systems, its got multiple people from places like Veeva Systems and Jefferson Health.

Dan Goldsmith is CEO. After reaching the position of EVP at Veeva Systems, he became President & CEO at Instructure, the Canvas learning management system company. He resigned in March of last year after a somewhat tumultuos period, as Instructure agreed to a $2 billion buyout by PE giant Thoma Bravo.

His sister, Jennifer Goldsmith, is President of Tendo. She also served Veeva, as Senior VP, and as strategy chief at Instructure. At Veeva, she played a key role in the development of its Vault product line.

At this point, Tendo describes itself in generalities such as the following:

“At Tendo, we believe in a world where software can create frictionless healthcare experiences for patients, caregivers, and providers. Stay tuned to see what we are dreaming up!”

Tendo is a word that has meaning in both in Latin and Japanese.

I checked the usual places to find any venture capital funding, but came up empty.

More as I learn of it.