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With effective vaccines developed and deployed in a matter of months and telemedicine making huge strides in this pandemic, the failure of the joint venture Haven to advance healthcare over the past three years looks particularly egregious.

The announcement in January 2018 that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase would combine to provide “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost” wiped tens of billions of dollars off the value of established providers at the time, with investors anticipating their high charges could be curbed by such a powerful alliance.

But nothing has come out of it. Haven Healthcare informed its remaining 57 employees on Monday morning that it would close by the end of February. “Haven worked best as an incubator of ideas, a place to pilot, test and learn — and a way to share best practices across our companies,” JPMorgan’s chief Jamie Dimon wrote to staff, claiming invaluable lessons had been learnt.

The Information reported last summer that Haven staff had become disillusioned by cost-cutting, lay-offs and the abandonment of a key telemedicine app that could connect employees to a dedicated primary care team that knew their medical histories. Amazon was seen as undermining the effort when it launched a similar Amazon Care app for its employees. Atul Gawande, the surgeon and influential author who had been made chief executive, stepped back to become chairman and was unable to detail any accomplishments, in this Lunch with the FT.

Several big tech companies have threatened to disrupt and improve our inefficient healthcare systems in the past, but major breakthroughs are rare and targets have been overambitious. One small, perhaps unfair example: Qualcomm’s challenge to build a Star Trek Tricorder diagnostic device has never been properly won.

There is more promise in the data analysis and AI being used by Google or an Apple Watch to monitor our conditions, if we can trust them with our information. But Covid-19 has shown the most effective joint ventures for our health are scientists teaming up with big pharma companies to bring their research to fruition, as in the Oxford university-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Cohn joins IBM, Qualcomm changes CEO
Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president and head of the National Economic Council under Donald Trump, has joined IBM as vice-chairman in a rare external injection of heavyweight talent into Big Blue’s top ranks. An insider will be Qualcomm’s next CEO: Steve Mollenkopf will hand over the reins to his longstanding deputy Cristiano Amon this summer, after almost seven years leading the US chipmaker. 

2. Teams lines up as Microsoft’s next big product
Teams, the communication and collaboration service built on top of Office, has thrived in the pandemic and could become Microsoft’s most important new product for years, writes Richard Waters. Microsoft chief Satya Nadella told him Teams is on its way to becoming a digital platform as significant as the internet browser, or a computer operating system.

Microsoft’s Teams booms in the pandemic

3. After iPhones, Foxconn to assemble cars
The Taiwanese contract manufacturer may end up putting together electric cars for Amazon and Apple, but for now, it has a tie-up with China’s Byton to help it ramp up mass production of its first EV model and bring it to market within a year. 

4. Indonesia’s biggest start-ups set to merge
Ride-hailing and payments group Gojek and ecommerce unicorn Tokopedia are in advanced talks to merge and go public within the year, creating a technology empire worth more than $18bn that would be one of south-east Asia’s biggest companies.

5. NYSE reverses China telco delisting
The New York Stock Exchange has backtracked on plans to delist three Chinese state-run telecoms groups, with its only explanation being that this was “in light of further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities”. Earlier, it seemed set to comply with a Trump administration executive order that bars US investors from holding stakes in companies with alleged ties to the Chinese military.

Line chart of Hong Kong listed share price change (rebased to 100) showing China telecoms groups rally on NYSE delistings reversal

Tech tools — Dell Latitude 9420

Dell today announced a range of business devices that “reimagine work” in the light of the pandemic. With the office now moving to the home and video conferencing becoming a key function, the Latitude 9420 laptop features intelligent background noise-cancelling and auto-mute, as well as connectivity features that prioritise bandwidth for video calls. There are also a built-in speakerphone and camera enhancements that provide automatic light correction and background blur. The 9420 will start at $1,949 and be available this spring The Verge has a round-up of Dell’s announcements.

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