Livongo acquires Diabeto to expand options for members

By Jonah Comstock

Mountain View, California-based Livongo Health, the chronic condition management technology company founded by former Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, has acquired Diabeto, a diabetes management company based in Piscataway, New Jersey in the US and Maharashtra in India. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Though it was founded in 2012, Diabeto really hit the scene in 2015 with an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that ultimately raised $18,945. Prior to that the company had raised $40,000 in seed funding from Startup Chile, according to Crunchbase.

Diabeto makes a small device, shaped like a bird, that connects to more than 40 popular glucose meters and essentially turns them into Bluetooth-connected meters. The company also has another device for meters with infrared capabilities and a tracking and management app of its own on both Android and iOS.

"The Livongo vision is to empower all people with chronic conditions to live better and healthier lives," Livongo Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Schneider told MobiHealthNews. "This acquisition, certainly in the diabetes space, gives us the opportunity to service more members, more people with chronic conditions — that sliver of people who wanted to continue using their own meter. That puts us further into our vision of where we’re going."

Livongo's current offering, called Livongo for Diabetes, consists of connected devices, a smart cloud, and a virtual care team. The Livongo Meter serves as both a connected glucometer and a pedometer and allows easy, realtime sharing of the data. It’s a standalone, cellular-connected device with a color touchscreen. In its three years on the market, the company has found some members are reluctant to switch away from the meters they've grown accustomed to.

"We've heard from the market that, in addition to a comprehensive solution like Livongo, they also wanted options for their people with diabetes who wanted to keep their existing glucose meter," CEO Tullman said in a statement. "They told us existing connectivity solutions in the market were too expensive and ineffective. We plan to price the Diabeto at less than half of what those solutions sell for today, making this option much more affordable. We believe Diabeto will enhance what is already the most comprehensive and effective diabetes care management solution on the market today."

Both Livongo and Diabeto work with health plans and health systems to connect to people with diabetes, though Diabeto has also offered its device directly to consumers. Diabeto signed its first major US client, Care Innovations, last year.

While the impetus for the acquisition was making Diabeto's connectivity assets available to Livongo users, Livongo isn't dismantling Diabeto's existing business, which will continue to work with consumers and enterprise partners. Diabeto customers will instead be given the opportunity to adopt Livongo's platform.

"Acquisitions work best when you allow people who have been doing successful work to keep doing successful work in the manner in which they’ve done it, and integrate them into your company," Schneider said. "[Diabeto's founders] will have equity stake in Livongo and they’ll be part of the Livongo team, but they’ll continue to run the way that they’re running today."

Livongo raised $52.5 million earlier this year and announced plans to move its offerings beyond just diabetes to other chronic conditions, likely starting with hypertension.

"We’re really excited at the growth, not only in customer acquisition, but in member reach in our mission to drive healthier and better lives for people with chronic conditions," Schneider said. "The ability to capture that data, leverage data science, and make suggestions back to change behavior. Making people happier, improving health, and reducing healthcare costs are really exciting for us. And this is a step along that path for us."