Doximity’s S-1 may explain why healthcare exits are heating up

There was a time when this column was more than a never-ending run of IPO coverage. Then the unicorn liquidity cycle kicked off and it’s been a long run of public offerings ever since. This morning is no exception.

Doximity filed to go public earlier today. You likely haven’t heard of the company because it exists in the modestly obscure world of telehealth. But it’s a venture-backed startup all the same that raised more than $80 million from investors like Emergence, InterWest Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures and Threshold, according to Crunchbase data.

Notably, Doximity has not fundraised since 2014, a year in which it attracted just under $82 million at a valuation of $355 million, per PitchBook data. How has it managed to not raise for so long? By generating lots of cash and profit over the years. Health tech communications, it turns out, can be a lucrative endeavor.

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Doximity is a social network that allows doctors to speak to each other while complying with HIPAA, a federal law that promotes medical privacy. The network, originally defined as a LinkedIn for medical professionals, gives doctors a Rolodex for specialists, a newsfeed for healthcare updates, a communication tool to talk to patients and a job search tool.

In 2017, Doximity claimed that it reached 70% of all U.S. doctors, more than 800,000 licensed professionals.

This is CEO Jeff Tangney’s second time bringing a health tech company public after his previous medical software startup, Epocrates, debuted in 2011.

Let’s chat briefly about the larger health tech exit market and then dig into Doximity’s IPO filing and get our heads around how the company managed to avoid private-market dilution for seven years — and what the company may be worth.

Health tech exits

The global digital health market is estimated to hit $221 billion by 2026, underscoring how large an opportunity the sector may present to venture capitalists. But investors aren’t merely just paying attention to estimates; they are seeing a number of exits in digital health (read: liquidity) that are warming up their checkbooks.

CB Insights estimates that there were 79 healthcare IPOs and M&A transactions in Q1 2021 alone, a 60% increase from the quarter prior. Another report says that there were 145 acquisitions of digital health companies in 2020, up from a solid 113 in 2019.

While still growing, it’s fair to say that those figures describe a healthy exit environment.

The list of deals in the market is straight fire. Earlier this year, Everlywell, founded in 2015, acquired two healthcare companies to expand its digital health service and distribution. Last week, Modern Fertility was bought by Ro for north of $225 million in a majority-equity deal. Before you start complaining that it’s not an IPO, consider this: A less than four-year-old company just got bought for a quarter of a billion dollars by another company that is less than four years old.