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Has the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference ecosystem gone out of control?

Written by Anne DeGheest // 14 January 2019 // Entrepreneur,

For the last 30 years, I have been attending the Healthcare Conference started by Hambrecht and Quist that is now hosted by JP Morgan. Honestly this year I had very mixed feelings about its value!

In the early years private and public companies were being hosted in one centralized hotel, The St Francis in San Francisco, the first working week in January. The ecosystem under one roof of Wall Street banks, analysts, entrepreneurs, corporate CEOs and investors was awesome and we could get a great impression of healthcare trends for the new year in just 4 days, see quality vetted deals... and meet a lot of interesting value-added people!

Bruce Booth from Atlas venture wrote an article in Forbes “The Game Isn't Worth The Candle: Reflections On The JPM Healthcare Conference” that got me to write down my own mixed feelings on how the conference has evolved into a manic series of events:

  • After its acquisition by JP Morgan, the Healthcare conference evolved into focusing mostly on large cap public companies. Most entrepreneurs, venture capitals and early stage players can no longer get an invitation to the conference. This created a vacuum that expanded the event into a ten-block radius around Union Square into competing conferences for the private sector with venture capitalist holding court in their hotel rooms.

  • In 2019, there were so many parallel events like Startup Health, RESI, Biotech show case, Digital MedTech Innovators that it was impossible to have quality meetings... running around Union Square and Market street in the rain to catch a glimpse of each event... doing my 15,000 steps marathon per day!

  • The other disappointment is that the quality of the deals has gone down. Most of the HealthTech/digital health companies pitching on stages had ideas or business models that failed in the past and seemed to have little presentation or business model coaching. Honestly, the overabundance of venture investment in the space, called it a bubble or not, is enabling half-baked companies to present, creating a bad impression that may be hard to recover.  Being one of the few that has built successful HealthTech companies with great exits, my heart hurts to see entrepreneurs spending 4 years of hard work with false promise… with an acqui-hire exit! This has evolved into a numbers game... high volume of presenters... to find a good one! Remember the dot com hype… the most successful outcome was Athena Health that recently sold for $5 billion 20 years later!

  • The hotel industry is taking advantage of the event by quadrupling their hotel room to over $1,000 per day and renting cocktail by the hour... and Lyft and Uber supercharge by 2X more than a normal taxi!

  • The homeless in the street were the worst in the last 30 years: aggressively hustling for money and insulting us otherwise.  SF Citi hall needs to step up and we need better mental health solutions!

  • The parties circuit has evolved into a manic circus with most events being between 6 to 8pm in the evenings... so I had to create a mapped printout to optimize my route! Most networking encounters have evolved from deal related conversations to showing your face in unproductive conversation at noisy parties.

  • Hopefully 2020 will bring back some sanity to the hell week!

 

Anne DeGheest pioneered the HealthTech or Digital Health space as a healthcare executive, an entrepreneur, angel investor, corporate advisor and mentor capitalist.

She is the founder of HealthTech Capital and MedStars venture.



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