Former Sun CEO's New Venture: A Healthcare Locker for the "Sandwich Generation"

2/15/12Follow @wroush

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the paradox that their users are their product and their advertisers are their customers.”

CareZone, by contrast, will make money solely from subscriptions—access to the service will cost about $50 per year per care recipient, Schwartz says. “I wanted to build a company where my customers were my users,” he says. “That way I won’t have to spend my time lobbying in Washington to weaken privacy legislation and then tell my users that it’s good for them.”

CareZone went through a couple of stealth names before it came fully out of the closet today. It used to be called Informed Biometry, and was also known as Picture of Health. It’s Schwartz’s first startup since he founded Lighthouse Design in 1989. (That company made software for Steve Jobs’s NeXT Computer, and was bought in 1996 by Sun, where Schwartz’s first job, interestingly, was working for Eric Schmidt, then head of Sun Laboratories.)

Schwartz’s co-founder at CareZone is Walter Smith, who is also co-founder and chief technology officer at Jackson Fish Market, the Seattle-based Web and mobile development studio and user-experience design consultancy. Schwartz says Smith is one of his oldest friends. In addition to that distinction, Smith was part of the team that developed the original Newton PDA at Apple, and was a developer and architect at Microsoft from 1996 to 2007.

The seven-employee company is self-funded, although “we are always on the lookout for folks who can help us grow the business more rapidly,” Schwartz says.

Here’s an edited version of my interview with Schwartz.

Xconomy: I have a friend who was working with his siblings in two different states to coordinate care for an ailing parent. He asked if I knew of a place to share all the paperwork. I suggested Box.net, which worked okay for them. Why is there a need for a dedicated place for healthcare information?

Jonathan Schwartz: Folks in Silicon Valley might say that Box.net or Dropbox are really easy to use. Now try explaining it to your non-technical sibling who lives in Iowa and is really busy and just wants to know what is the URL. We are big Dropbox users ourselves, and it’s a fabulous service, but there is not one hammer for all nails. Right now a lot of this communication may take place over e-mail and other channels. We wanted to bring it together in one place.

X: How big is the market for this service?

JS: From what we have heard, people have parents all over the world. Also, from what we have heard, people have children all over the world. So it’s a very big market. To the extent that we can capture the requirements of people who are caring for their loved ones, and help them be more efficient and effective so they can worry less, we will be successful.

X: Describe the business model for CareZone.

JS: For an introductory period of 30 days—through March 17—a three-person account is available for free, without limitation on the number of helpers who can join, for one year. We will invite a bunch of people in during that free period and that will be the charter group for us. After the 30 days, a subscription is available for $5 a month or $50 a year, prepaid. That is per person being cared for, with volume discounts that we haven’t rolled out yet. It will likely be $8 per month for two people, $10 for three, et cetera.

X: No ads, ever?

JS: We will never sell ads, we will never sell your data. We don’t have access to your data—only you have access to your data, since it’s encrypted. Now, the reality is that we can generate a password for someone who forgot theirs—so it’s our policies and practices, not just our technology, that protect you.

X: You haven’t started a company since 1989, when you founded Lighthouse Design. What possessed you to go back to being an early-stage entrepreneur?

JS: I cared a lot. I saw what was going on with the people I cared about, both in my own family and the people I’m surrounded by.

And there’s always the reality that some of the most interesting business problems we faced at Sun were centered around helping customers deal with very large-scale audiences. Whether you are a government agency trying to delivery an update to your citizenry, or a bank with 20 million customers or … Next Page »

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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