With 37 acquisitions, 2015 tops 2014 for digital health M&A

By Jonah Comstock

The final quarter of 2015 brought eight more digital health acquisitions, plus some larger scale acquisitions that could have reverberations throughout the world of digital health. The list below includes exits for a number of longtime and well-known players like Misfit, Lively, and Zamzee, though some of those acquisitions were under better circumstances than others.

A few buyers stand out with multiple acquisitions throughout the year. Indian practice management company Practo topped the list with four acquisitions: Insta Health, Qikwell, Fitho, and Genii. Welltok picked up Zamzee, Silverlink, and Predilytics. Under Armour bought MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, and Gritness. And finally, IBM bought Explorys, Phytel, and Merge. And, still worth mentioning with just two 2015 acqusitions, Weight Watchers picked up Weilo and Hot5, both presumably to build out its mobile offering.

We also tracked some larger acquisitions in healthcare that might have an affect on the digital health. Last quarter saw high-profile consolidation in the health insurance space with Aetna buying Humana. At the time, we rounded up some possibilities for how that acquisition would affect the insurers' digital health offerings. This quarter, it was the pharmacy space that was shaken up with Walgreens' purchase of Rite-Aid. We rounded up some of the digital health deals and launches that have been undertaken by the two pharmacies over the years. And lately, with the Pfizer-Allergan merger and the Boehringer Ingelheim-Sanofi asset swap, we're seeing some acquisition activity in the pharma space. All of those companies have some digital health presence, so those are worth watching as well.

These eight Q4 acquisitions put 2015 just a hair ahead of 2014, with a grand total of 37 acquisitions to 2014's 33. Read on for a roundup of all the year's M&A, with the eight acquisitions from Q4 at the top of the list.

Fossil Group acquires Misfit

Fossil Group will buy wearables company Misfit for $260 million, the companies announced in November. Fossil will keep the Misfit brand and product line intact and work with them to develop and release additional products in Misfit’s pipeline. Misfit founder and CEO Sonny Vu will serve as president and chief technology officer of connected devices at Fossil, an executive-level position. The transaction will be funded through cash on hand and bank debt.

Welltok buys Zamzee and Silverlink

Denver, Colorado-based health management company Welltok, which makes the CafeWell Health Optimization Platform, acquired kids’ activity tracking platform Zamzee, which formerly spun out of Redwood City, California-based nonprofit HopeLab. The terms of the sale were undisclosed. The Zamzee platform, which combines colorful clip-on activity trackers with a gamified, anonymous social network to encourage kids to be more active, will be integrated into Welltok’s CafeWell offering to make the platform more attractive to families.

Later in the quarter, WellTok also purchased Burlington, Massachusetts-based Silverlink, which offers a tool that healthcare organizations can use to create messaging campaigns for consumers. Welltok plans to use Silverlink’s offering to help its customers, including health plans, at-risk providers, government programs, and large employers, to communicate with consumers on an personal level.

PatientSafe buys Vree Health

In October, San Diego, California-based PatientSafe Solutions bought the assets of Merck subsidiary Vree Health for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will help the care coordination and provider workflow company expand its offerings to the home care market in addition to the hospital. Merck isn’t letting it’s former company too far out of its site: the Merck Global Health Investment Fund (Merck GHI) is already a major investor in PatientSafe.

GreatCall acquires Lively

San Diego-based GreatCall, which offers digital health services and devices to seniors, acquired the assets of aging in place startup Lively for an undisclosed amount. Current Lively subscribers will continue to get support for the technology from GreatCall’s customer service, and over time the whole system will transition to become part of GreatCall’s platform. 

Genoa buys 1DocWay

Tukwila, Washington-based Genoa, a QoL Healthcare Company, a behavioral health specialty pharmacy chain, acquired New York City-based 1DocWay, which has developed a telepsychiatry network. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Genoa plans to launch Genoa Telepsychiatry using 1DocWay’s offering.

Quality Systems buys Healthfusion

In November, Quality Systems Incorporated (QSI), the parent company of practice management and EHR company NextGen Healthcare, announced that it would acquire HealthFusion, makers of the MediTouch mobile EHR for small practices. The cash-only deal is for $165 million, with a possible contingent consideration of $25 million depending on HealthFusion’s performance before the March 2016 close of the deal.

Anytime Fitness acquires Pump One

This one just hit the wire today. Hastings, Minnesota-based gym chain Anytime Fitness bought New York-based mobile app developer Pump One for an undisclosed amount. Pump One makes the apps FitnessBuilder and FitnessClass. Anytime apparently acquired the company to build out its own mobile experience.

Here's the rest of the year's acquisitions, starting with the first big deals that kicked off 2015:

Under Armour buys MyFitnessPal and Endomondo

In February, Baltimore, Maryland-based athletics apparel company Under Armour acquired two health and fitness app makers: San Francisco-based fitness platform MyFitnessPal and Denmark-based Endomondo. Endomondo, which makes free GPS-based tracking apps, went for for $85 million and MyFitnessPal, which offers apps that track fitness and diet, was acquired for $475 million. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank was very straightforward about the reasons for the acquisition, saying that the company was building a comprehensive fitness trackign platform with the goal of selling more apparel.

“At the end of the day, the math is pretty simple,” he said in an investor call. “The more active someone is, the more likely they are to buy athletic apparel and footwear. And for the month of January, the four sites in our Connected Fitness platform, MapMyFitness, Endomondo, MyFitnessPal and UA Record, recorded more than 100 million workouts and added 4.2 million new unique users.”

Daqri buys Melon

Melon, the EEG-tracking headband company that raised nearly triple its initial goal in a 2013 crowdfunding campaign, was acquired in February by Daqri, an enterprise augmented reality company founded in 2010, for an undisclosed amount.

Daqri’s CEO Brian Mullins announced the acquisition from the keynote stage at the 4D Expo, an event hosted by the company. Daqri is working on something it calls “4D,” a catch-all term for technology that displays data directly in the user’s environment somehow rather than confining it to a screen. One facet of that work is a Smart Helmet the company is developing, and Melon’s technology will be incorporated into that helmet.

Sharecare buys Feingold Technologies

Also in February, Atlanta-based Sharecare, the health and wellness engagement platform founded by WebMD founder Jeff Arnold and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, acquired Germany-based Feingold Technologies, a company that offers software that analyzes human behaviors. As part of the acquisition, Feingold Technologies offices, in Berlin and Munich, will operate under Sharecare, effective immediately, the company said. Feingold’s team will work with Sharecare’s existing product and technology teams to create mobile products and apps that help people optimize their productivity. The first such offering of the acquisition has already launched in a closed beta for Android devices.

Fitbit buys FitStar

In March, activity tracker startup Fitbit acquired fitness coaching app developer, FitStar, for at least $17.8 million — and likely more, with some publications putting the deal between $25 million and $40 million in a mix of cash and stock. Prior to the acquisition, Fitbit already offered a premium $49.99 a year service that includes personalized fitness plans and goals generated after an analysis of the user’s Fitbit data, more in-depth data reports, and comparison tools that compare the user to other Fitbit users. The FitStar acquisition will help Fitbit build out its premium subscription features even more.

Kareo buys DoctorBase

Irvine, California-based practice management software company Kareo acquired San Francisco-based DoctorBase, maker of a mobile-based patient communications offering, in March. While DoctorBase’s offerings are still available on their own for now, Kareo plans to combine DoctorBase’s offering with its practice management service too. The companies said they will slowly integrate their products into a single offering. They aim to launch a “limited availability, lightly integrated release” in early Q2 and a deeper integration in the second half of the year.

Weight Watchers buys Weilos and Hot5

In April Weight Watchers acquired Weilos, which offers users a picture taking app to document weight loss through selfies — creating some possible confusion with Weight Watchers’ other acquisition from last year, Wello.

Weight Watchers reportedly bought Weilos for a price in the “single-digit millions” in order to “accelerate the product and technology development of the social networking and community capabilities that Weight Watchers members are looking for”.

In May, Weight Watchers made another acquisition, buying San Francisco-based fitness app developer Hot5 for an undisclosed amount. Hot5 was established in October 2012 and launched August 2013. The startup has developed two video workout apps, Hot5 Fitness and Vertical Escape Fitness Challenge, which are available for iOS devices. Both apps are free to download and offer a handful of workouts, but users need to sign up for a paid subscription for more.

Clinical Ink merges with Centros Health

In March, pharma-focused mobile clinical trial data collection company Clinical Ink merged with CentrosHealth, formerly MyHealthBook, which makes configurable mobile apps for clinical trial patient engagement. As part of the deal, MPM Capital, which founded CentrosHealth, made an additional investment in Clinical Ink, as did F2 Ventures, FCA Venture Partners and other existing Clinical Ink investors.

The combination of provider and patient-facing data collection tools rounds out Clinical Ink’s approach at a time when Apple ResearchKit is shining a spotlight on the potential for mobile health in research settings.

Evidation Health merges with The Activity Exchange

In March, GE Ventures and Stanford Health Care teamed up to create Evidation Health, a company focused on evaluating the efficacy of digital health technologies. Soon after Evidation was formed it merged with wellness engagement platform company The Activity Exchange.

The Activity Exchange was a platform that aggregated data from a wide range of health and fitness apps and devices. The company aimed to help insurance companies, pharma companies and others build better engagement with their patients or members. Evidation plans to continue to work with The Activity Exchange’s past customers and academic partners, which include: Humana, Biogen, Sanofi, Harvard Business School and Wharton.

Xplore buys Motion Computing

In April, Austin, Texas-based rugged tablet maker Xplore bought longtime competitor and Austin neighbor Motion Computing. Xplore bought Motion’s assets for $9 million cash, plus the assumption of $7 million in net liabilities, after Square 1 Bank foreclosed on most of Motion’s assets. While Xplore has traditionally focused on fully ruggedized tablets for industries like energy, military operations, manufacturing, distribution, public services, public safety and government, Motion’s focus is on semi-rugged tablets for field service, healthcare, utilities, construction, retail, public safety and first responders. So the acquisition effectively brings Xplore into the healthcare space.

IBM buys Explorys and Phytel

IBM announced several pieces of news at once when it launched its new Watson Health business unit in April, including two acquisitions. The company picked up Cleveland-based Explorys and Dallas-based Phytel. The two acquisitions are both big data analytics companies. Explorys is a Cleveland Clinic spin-off that uses cloud computing to detect patterns in diseases and treatments. Phytel develops cloud-based tools to enhance care coordination and outcomes. Terms were not disclosed for either deal.

Welltok buys Predilytics

In May, Denver-based Welltok, the health management company that makes the CafeWell Health Optimization Platform, acquired Predilytics, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based predictive analytics company, for an undisclosed amount. Welltok will incorporate Predilytics’ engine into CafeWell, to help health plans, at-risk providers and other population health managers better understand and anticipate the needs of their patient populations.

Teladoc buys StatDoctors

Just a couple months after Teladoc filed for an IPO, the company disclosed that it had acquired Scottsdale, Arizona-based Stat Health Services, which offers the online doctor visit service Stat Doctors, presumably to bolster its own telemedicine offering. In a revised S-1 filing, the company disclosed that they bought Stat Health Services for for $30.5 million, comprised of $13.7 million of cash and $16.8 million of stock. 

Under Armour acquires Gritness

Some time during the second quarter of the year, Under Armour quietly acquired Austin, Texas-based Gritness. The acquisition price was not disclosed. The Gritness app is essentially a search engine that helps people find and join workouts. Through the app or website, users can search for workouts or find friends that have similar fitness interests. Businesses can also use Gritness to make their available fitness programs more visible.

Adidas acquires Runtastic

The other big news in the world of fitness app acquisitions came from Adidas, who bought Austrian app Runtastic for $240 million, a move seen by most as a reaction to Under Armour’s acquisition spree that started last year. Runtastic will continue to operate as a brand and an independent business unit out of Linz, Austria, Vienna, and San Francisco, Gschwandtner wrote. All four co-founders will stay on board. He also promised a new app by the end of the year.

Nortek Security and Control buys Numera's assets

Seattle, Washington-based Numera, a longtime mobile health company that offers mobile personal emergency response devices as well as other telehealth tools, had its mPERS and telehealth assets acquired by Carlsbad, California-based Nortek Security and Control. According to a Nortek FAQ, Nortek funded the transaction, valued at $12 million “plus contingent consideration based on future sales”, from cash on hand. Numera Social, Numera’s relatively new consumer engagement and behavior change platform, was not part of the deal and will remain an independent company with a new brand.

Physicians Interactive buys Quantia Communications

Later in July, Physicians Interactive (PI), the digital health marketing company that offers medical reference apps and resources like Omnio to physicians, acquired Waltham, Massachusetts-based Quantia Communications, parent company of physician social network QuantiaMD. The acquisition, the terms of which were undisclosed, adds the first peer-to-peer network to PI’s platform, which already includes a number of different resources for physicians and, as of last year’s acquisition, patient-facing health company MedHelp.

IBM Watson Health buys Merge Healthcare

Then in August, IBM Watson Health made its third acquisition, Merge Healthcare, which it bought for $1 billion. Using Merge’s software and datasets, Watson will be able to scan medical images, like X-rays, brain scans, or dermatological images, and compare them to a database of historical images, in order to detect anomalies or historical correlations.

Medical Specialties Distributors buys Verbal Applications

A few weeks later, Stoughton, Massachusetts-based Medical Specialties Distributors (MSD), a distributor and rental service for home care medical equipment, acquired Verbal Applications, also known as VerbalCare, which has developed apps that allow care teams to communicate better with their patients. The terms were undisclosed.

Qualcomm acquires Capsule Technologie

In mid-September Qualcomm Life, the mobile technology company's subsidiary focused on medical device connectivity, acquired Capsule Technologie, a France-based clinical data management company that currently serves 1,930 hospital clients in 38 countries, for an undisclosed amount. Up until the acquisition, Qualcomm's focus had been on connecting the data from home healthcare devices back to the hospital. But with the acquisition of Capsule, the company will also move into the space of connecting devices within the hospital to the hospital's EMR and IT systems.

Teva Pharmaceuticals acquires Gecko Health Innovations

One of the most interesting international acquisitions of the third quarter was also the only one we tracked in the pharma space: Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva announced plans to acquire Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Gecko Health Innovations (previously known as GeckoCap), a smart inhaler company. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Airbnb acquires Lapka

Sharing economy lodging giant Airbnb has acquired Lapka, a Russian startup, that developed smartphone-connected sensor offerings, including a smartphone-connected breathalyzer. It’s unlikely that this signals a move into healthcare for Airbnb (though stranger things have happened) and more likely that the acquisition was a talent grab.

Practo acquires Insta Health, Qikwell, Fitho, and Genii

India-based Practo, which offers a practice management tool and a doctor search engine, acquired hospital data management provider Insta Health in September and rival appointment scheduling company Qikwell a few weeks later. Practo bought Insta Health for $12 million, but the terms of the Qikwell deal were undisclosed. Earlier in the year, the company also acquired digital fitness startup Fitho and Genii, an ecommerce company.

Diabetes Tools buys DiabetesGuru

Another acquisition, in Sweden, dealt with the diabetes space. Sweden-based company Diabetes Tools, which has developed a mobile, clinical diabetes management service, called TriabetesClinic, acquired a consumer-facing diabetes tracking app for children, called DiabetesGuru, from its developer, Shore Innovation, for an undisclosed sum.