Lefkofsky's Tempus raises $70 million
Tempus, Eric Lefkofsky's cancer-data company, is getting a $70 million boost from some familiar partners: New Enterprise Associates and Revolution Growth. The two Washington, D.C.-area venture funds led a new round of financing that brings the total outside investments in Tempus to $130 million.
The latest round values the company at about $700 million.
Tempus was launched two years ago by Lefkofsky, who co-founded and was CEO of Groupon, after his wife had been treated for breast cancer. Since then, it's grown to about 200 people.
The past year has been a busy one as the company started signing up research centers and other hospitals as partners. Tempus is a big data play on oncology. Hospitals send patients to Tempus for genetic sequencing and analysis. The hospitals provide data, without information that could identify patients, back to Tempus. The company's software platform uses data to provide doctors information about treatment options for individual patients, showing how other patients with similar genetic profiles have responded to particular therapies.
One of the big challenges was gathering enough partners to build a critical mass of data. "The real hurdle that I didn't know we'd be able to get through is: could we get these top academic medical cancer centers to contribute data?" Lefkofsky told me. "The answer is a resounding yes."
He said the additional funds will help Tempus build out that database.
Tempus has signed up an impressive list of hospitals, including Northwestern University's Lurie Cancer Center, University of Chicago Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Duke University School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center and University of Michigan, as well as community hospitals.
"There is a large and growing number of doctors who are using our system today, using our labs and data that we provide," Lefkofksy said. "I knew if we had the data, we'd be able to build elegant software to make their jobs easier. That's happening. We've just got to get as many hospitals as we can and as many practitioners connected to Tempus so they're using our tech, contributing data and the whole ecosystem gets stronger."
After two years in business, he said: "We're ahead or on target with where we hoped to be. As we approach about 200 people, we're getting to scale. It's now about how do you weave together this ecosystem so when you bring big data to cancer care, you can allow physicians to make real-time decisions based on data and allow researchers to improve the research they do based on data?"
The investment is one of the largest in Chicago in a year that has seen a healthy uptick in large financings. The biggest so far is Outcome Health, an 11-year-old health-information and media company that raised more than $500 million. Uptake, a startup led by Lefkofsky's longtime business partner, Brad Keywell, raised $90 million. Last week, Raise.com announced a $60 million round.
Lefkofsky mostly self-funded Tempus until now. The new investors are familiar faces. NEA has backed most of Lefkofsky and Keywell's previous companies, including Groupon, Echo Global Logistics and InnerWorkings. Revolution is run by AOL founder Steve Case and Ted Leonsis, an AOL veteran and early Groupon investor who remains on its board. Revolution also has invested in Uptake.
"Given NEA's long and successful history investing in the intersection of technology and life science, we felt like the perfect strategic partner given Tempus's mission to help doctors personalize care by collecting and analyzing large volumes of data," Peter Barris of NEA said in a statement.
Lefkofsky said he doesn't expect to raise more money. "We feel like we're well capitalized at this stage to double down and continue to invest in the business and in growing the database. We don't anticipate needing additional capital. But if we do, we'll raise it or invest ourselves."
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