Eric Lefkofsky is most often recognized as one of the co-founders of Groupon, one of the fastest growing tech companies on record. Lefkofsky’s business strategy of arming industries with modern technology and data capabilities has led him to start a number of additional companies, such as Uptake, Echo, and Innerworkings. Each of these operate in different industries. Uptake is a predictive analytics platform for large industries, while Echo provides tech-enabled logistics services and InnerWorkings delivers managed print and promotional solutions. However, each company Lefkofsky has started is a tech company at the broad level. Most recently, he is applying this business strategy to healthcare.
In 2015, Eric Lefkfofsky founded Tempus, a technology company helping physicians to deliver personalized cancer treatment. The impetus for starting Tempus came from his experience of a loved one being treated for cancer. He revealed he did not have any other plans for business in mind when he stepped down as Groupon’s CEO in 2013. However, Lefkofsky saw the absence of modern technology and data in clinical care as a problem to which he could provide a solution. Three years later, Tempus has made a number of notable partnerships with NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers and ASCO’s CancerLinq. Lefkofsky spoke about his company’s latest partnership in a conversation with Paul Goldberg for The Cancer Letter.
Goldberg started off by asking how the CancerLInq deal is structured, and what each party will bring to the table. Lefkofsky began his explanation by noting the remarkable achievement CancerLinq has made in its ability to amass a dataset of over one million patient records. He indicated that the quick market penetration of CancerLinq brought about a few challenges with regards to how to apply the data, which was essentially raw, unstructured data that had been provided by a large number of different sources. CancerLinq made the decision to license the data to a third party company, and subsequently went on a search for an organization that could structure and analyze its dataset in order to deliver value to physicians in clinic. After a long search process, CancerLinq chose Tempus and Precision HealthAI, a New York based technology company led by Romesh Wadhwani. Lefkofsky says the two companies complement each other in their respective focuses, and each will be able deliver value to CancerLInq’s de-identified datasets.
Following the general structure of the deal, Goldberg wanted to know how the resulting datasets will be monetized. Lefkofsky responded that, prior to monetization, the datasets need to prove value within the industry. He says achieving this goal all starts with scale; all of the unstructured clinical data needs to be structured and annotated in a single database that is large enough to allow for relevant patterns to emerge. The CancerLinq partnership, along with Tempus’ many other partnerships, are all part of the mission to bring precision medicine to cancer care. In addition to raising the standard of care, Lefkofsky also believes precision medicine can help eliminate costs in the healthcare industry and point to an independent analyses that shows one third of the three trillion dollars spent on healthcare in the United States is wasted. Lefkofsky believes precision medicine can reduce costs related to ineffective treatments, drugs, and supplies.
Lefkofsky has spoken about money eventually dwindles as a source of motivation, and he reached a point at which he started seeking out ways to use his fortune to benefit society. In 2006, he and his wife launched the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, which aims to impact medical research, education, and human rights among other initiatives. The family later joined the Giving Pledge.