Chicago-based digital healthcare advertiser Outcome Health’s troubles seem to be increasing with each passing month. In the wake of a recent Wall Street Journal investigation alleging that the company’s employees misled clients using inaccurate and manipulated advertisement performance data, a handful of Outcome’s top investors have filed a lawsuit against the startup claiming they were misled by Outcome’s founders prior to their $487.5 million investment.
“Had plaintiffs known the truth about Outcome Holdings and Outcome Health, they never would have made their investments,” the investors wrote in a complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in New York County on Tuesday. “Instead, because they relied on defendants’ knowingly false data and financial reports, and false representations in the Purchase Agreement, plaintiffs now hold securities that may be worthless. As a result, plaintiffs are entitled to rescission of their investment and damages to compensate them for defendants’ fraud, negligent misrepresentations, and breaches of contract.”
In a complaint, plaintiff Global Private Opportunities Partners II (GPOP) — an investment unit run by Goldman Sachs — said that it has repeatedly sought proof that $225 million of the investment set aside to be distributed to Outcome’s founders and held by an Outcome subsidiary is being held in liquid funds. GPOP and the other plaintiffs wrote that Outcome and its cofounders Rishi Shah, CEO, and Shradha Agarwal, president, “dodged” these inquiries, but learned from another private investment firm acting on Shah’s behalf that Gravitas was most likely transferring the money elsewhere.
“In other words, shortly after the Wall Street Journal first exposed the fraud at Outcome Health, and while GPOP was repeatedly seeking assurances about the location and liquidity of the $225 million, Shah was taking steps to move those very funds out of Gravitas,” the plaintiffs wrote.
In light of these and other concerns, the investors wrote that they are also seeking an order of attachment and injunctive relief against the cofounders and Gravitas so that the $225 million will remain available.
Shortly after Journal’s investigation, Outcome said that the fraudulent performance data could be directly attributed to the actions of certain employees, and were not indicative of the company and its executive team’s intent. Outcome also hired a law firm to independently review the allegations, and adopted new policies to better comply with customer contracts.
As to yesterday’s filing and its claims, Shah and Agarwal said that the $225 million in question is not intended for their personal use, but instead are looking to return it to the business.
“We want to use the capital we would be entitled to take out personally instead for the benefit of the business, to further capitalize Outcome Health based on our confidence and commitment to the company and its mission,” the cofounders said in a joint statement. “We have been completely transparent with employees, customers and investors, and always operated with complete integrity. The equity investors led by Goldman Sachs are misusing the court system to advance their own short-term, self-interest of winning an advantage over debt-holders — all to the detriment of the business, its employees, and customers.”
Outcome Health was founded as ContextMedia in 2006, and in January changed its name after concluding the acquisition of competitor AccentHealth. The company equips providers’ waiting rooms with screens and tablets that display patient education materials along with pharmaceutical marketing. In May, Outcome announced that it had raised at least $500 million in a round of funding, lending the company a valuation of around $5 billion at the time.
Shortly after last month’s news, Shah issued a public statement to the company’s customers further outlining the company’s stance on the unethical practices and actions taken in light of the allegations.
“Integrity is the foundational value at Outcome Health — that has always been our commitment,” Shah wrote in the statement. “[President Shradha Agarwal] and I, alongside our entire leadership team, have been building a company that operates appropriately, delivers effectively for our customers, and continuously strives towards excellence in all of our operations. We have taken many actions to elevate the standards of reporting and transparency in our nascent industry.”