SM: So 15 years later you left Intel. What is the story behind that?
LM: Intel’s largest OEM at the time, Packard Bell, was carrying the Intel brand into retail. They merged with NEC’s U.S. operations, and I was asked by that newly merged entity to join them and run the commercial business group under the NEC brand, working directly under the founder of Packard Bell.
Leaving Intel was a very hard decision to make. We had gone from working our muscles to the bone to being one of the most successful companies in the history of mankind. I really was looking for another big challenge, and this represented that challenge. I did that for two years until NEC Japan took over the combined company. We did a lot of restricting and technology movement. We introduced a lot of products and advanced technology in both the retail and commercial environments.
I had been traveling an enormous amount, so I decided to take a break and go in a different direction. While I was doing that, one of my former mentors at Intel, Frank Gill, asked me to come and do a turnaround of an Intel spin-off, eFusion, which was in the VoIP space. Within two years we successfully turned the company around and sold it to ITXC, a public company in New Jersey.
We successfully sold the company because of the intellectual property that we developed. That was developed by two men at eFusion, and after we completed the sale the two of them and I started Krytpiq. We decided to apply what we had learned in our lifetimes to the healthcare market.
SM: This was right after the dot-com crash?
LM: Unofficially, we started in November 2001, and officially we started in January 2002. If you remember the very hard days after September 11, business was very difficult.
SM: Did any of the founders know anything about the healthcare market?
LM: I have to confess that it was everyone’s first direct experience with this market. Indirectly I had worked with some Intel customers who were selling to customers, and one of our co-founders had worked on the human genome project.
SM: So right after September 11 you decided to undertake your first entrepreneurial venture in a market you knew nothing about; that is very interesting.
LM: And we did it with very little money, a refrigerator, and a coffee machine. We like challenges. You have it exactly right. I knew very little about it from a domain point of view, and it was a tough market environment. If you look at it today, our business model seems obvious, but in 2002 when we were thinking about healthcare connectivity, nobody else was considering it. We picked a target that the market had not awakened to yet. We were clearly early.
SM: What was the vision? What did you think you were about to do?
LM: Ironically, exactly what we are after today. We could layer domain knowledge and meta data knowledge on regular email and use that as the connectivity tool for healthcare. This was in the context that healthcare was so different, isolated, and paper-intensive, and the market up to that point had rejected pretty much all healthcare IT with the exception of practice management software. We felt that email could fill a void.
SM: Email between whom?
LM: Between providers and patients. There were two negative triggers and one positive trigger that made me do this. The first negative one was having a lab result for my mom that was already done, and somebody hoarded that data. They did not make it available until after the doctor came back from a trip, even though we had already paid for the results. My mother’s health was critical, and we were under incredible stress waiting for that lab result. The inability to have information that belongs to the patient flowing freely was wrong. Something needed to be done about that.
The second negative trigger was the sheer waste of time that existed in the system. I have been a person that spent a lot of time on the road and I have had a lot of employees, over 2,000 at one point. The productivity that is lost by requiring people to go to a waiting room is amazing when the same thing could be accomplished via email. Why sit in a waiting room, exposing yourself to who knows what, when you can get the answer from your doctor in an email?