Sharecare acquires Little Blue Book, raises $14M

By Brian Dolan
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The Little Blue Book AppThis week Sharecare announced that it had raised $14 million from Galen Partners and TomorrowVentures. The company has also acquired The Little Blue Book (TLBB) from Galen Partners and other investors in exchange for shares in Sharecare.

TLBB has been a popular reference tool for physicians for more than 20 years. Sharecare will make some of TLBB's content available on its platform so that users can locate physicians, practices, and hospitals. TLBB  counts 400,000 physicians in its database and 140,000 practices. Sharecare will offer each physician its suite of provider-focused offerings designed to enhance their practices, including digital business cards, lead generation and search optimization tools. Sharecare also mentioned SharecarePro, its soon-to-launch expert membership product.

The Little Blue Book is offered as a free app for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices. The Android version just launched last October. The app is useful to both physicians and consumers -- similar to a yellow pages app, but just for finding contact information for healthcare providers.

In the fall of 2010, Jef Arnold, founder of WebMD, launched a new health site for consumers and healthcare professionals, called Sharecare. Sharecare’s core offering is an interactive question and answer platform that allows people to “ask, learn and act upon” hundreds of thousands of questions about health and wellness. The answers to the questions are provided by various experts from hospitals, physicians, non-profits, healthcare companies and more. Brands that sponsors the site can also answer the questions.

Sharecare's offering bares some basic similarities to another health-focused Q&A startup, HealthTap. Ron Gutman, HealthTap's CEO explained some of the differences to MobiHealthNews last year.

Arnold has previously said that Sharecare will be a platform upon which other mobile health apps could communicate. The site is also mobile optimized, specifically for iPad users, Arnold said.

Sharecare intends to become more than a Q&A site — in his original demonstration, Arnold announced plans for a wide range of applications and services, including future plans for one-on-one video consultations between patients and physicians. At the time Sharecare was piloting those video consultations with physicians in Atlanta, Georgia, where the company is based.

Arnold created Sharecare in collaboration with television personality and physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios, Remark Media, Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications.

As part of the recent announcement, Arnold is assuming the title of CEO of the company, too.

More in the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: ATLANTA, GA, Jan 17, 2012 -- Sharecare, an interactive health and wellness social platform providing people with access to expert-developed answers, information and programs to live their healthiest life, today announced that it has secured $14 million growth equity financing led by Galen Partners along with TomorrowVentures, LLC. The proceeds of the financing will enable Sharecare to accelerate the development of innovative programs, services and tools that foster healthier living and unite people across the healthcare continuum to deliver and receive optimal care.

Additionally, Sharecare also acquired The Little Blue Book (TLBB) from Galen Partners and a group of other investors in exchange for Sharecare common stock. TLBB has been the leading physician practice reference for over 23 years with over 400,000 physicians and 180,000 physician practices in TLBB's database. People will soon be able to access TLBB's physician practice information on Sharecare in order to locate physicians, practices, and hospitals in their area, as well as make informed decisions about which caregiver can best address their specific health issues and needs. Sharecare plans to quickly migrate TLBB's physicians to its digital platform, providing each physician access to Sharecare's suite of provider-focused products to enhance their practices, such as digital business cards, lead generation and search optimization tools and access to SharecarePro, Sharecare's upcoming expert membership product.

The company's Board of Directors also announced that the Chairman and Chief Architect of Sharecare, Jeff Arnold, will formally expand his role as CEO to steward the continued growth and success of the company. As part of the transaction, David Jahns, Managing Partner of Galen Partners, will join Sharecare's Board of Directors.

"We are very proud of the progress we've made this past year in building an online health and wellness ecosystem by providing trusted information, actionable evidence-based programs and online support and tools for healthcare consumers and providers," said Jeff Arnold, Chairman and CEO of Sharecare. "I'm excited to serve as CEO of the company and to welcome Galen Partners and TomorrowVentures to our prestigious group of shareholders and industry partners. Galen's knowledge of, and reputation in, the healthcare industry make them an ideal partner for innovation and growth."

"The founding partners and group of industry leaders involved in Sharecare have built a transformative platform with significant momentum. We believe that Sharecare's vision of enabling online industry collaboration by leveraging new technologies to improve communication and care while reducing cost and improving outcomes will have a measurable impact on our healthcare system," said David Jahns. "We look forward to collaborating with the team to help shape the future of health and wellness delivery."

About Galen Partners Galen Partners is a leading healthcare venture capital investment firm based in Stamford, Connecticut. The firm focuses on growth equity investments in health care technology-enabled services, medical devices, and specialty pharmaceutical companies. With nearly $1 billion under management, raised through five funds, Galen has invested in more than 70 companies since 1990. The firm continues a tradition of strategic collaboration and partnership with its portfolio company management teams to build healthcare market leaders. For more information, please visit Galen's Web site at www.galen.com .

About TomorrowVentures, LLC. TomorrowVentures is an opportunistic investment firm with a focus toward seed and early-stage venture capital investments that develop innovative ideas that have the power to change the way people live, interact, and thrive. Founded in 2009 with a unique approach to venture capital and an extensive, diverse base of experience and expertise, TomorrowVentures adds value far beyond capital. Its goal is to grow companies capable of transforming technology, lifestyle and philanthropy. For more information about TomorrowVentures, visit www.tomorrowvc.com .

About Sharecare Launched in 2010 and based in Atlanta, GA, Sharecare's mission is to greatly simplify the search for high-quality healthcare information and answer the world's questions of health. Created by Jeff Arnold and Dr. Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Harpo Studios, Remark Media MARK +2.40% , Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications, the Sharecare interactive social Q & A platform allows people to ask, learn and act upon questions of health and wellness. The company's innovative approach provides a wide array of expert answers to each question ranging from hospitals to MDs to non-profits to healthcare companies to active health consumers, ultimately creating a community where healthcare knowledge is built, shared and put into practice.

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