Health insurance

Meet the Twitter mafia in health and fitness tech

After leaving Twitter, Costolo got into the fitness-tech space for personal reasons. He’s a runner and Crossfit addict, and saw an opportunity to engage others in sports. But he had a few other ideas to explain the interest of so many fellow Twitter alums in health-tech.

“At Twitter, we were always mission-centric,” he said.

So it seemed logical to Costolo that his former colleagues would be attracted to companies with a strong mission.

“In Silicon Valley, we joke that every company thinks they’re changing the world,” he said. “But with health, you can see an immediate impact rather than needing to jump through verbal hoops to convince yourself.”

The other factor is the network effects. Just like the PayPal mafia, a group of high-profile former employees that chose to invest in each other, the Twitter alumni in health care are picking up the best and brightest from their former workplace.

Twitter’s former media chief Katie Jacobs Stanton served on the board of Color Genomics alongside fellow Twitter colleagues Elad Gil and Othman Laraki before making the decision to join full-time. She subsequently snapped up Linda Jiang and Jeff Dejelo, both from Twitter.

“Yes I do think there’s a network now,” she said. “But we also recognize that the (health) space is wide open and there’s so much opportunity.”

Baljeet Singh, who now works at a diabetes management start-up called Livongo Health, said he was shaped by the “rough patches” at Twitter. At times of intense scrutiny, he recalled that the all-hands meetings reminded him of the company’s mission. “It bound us together and got people fired up,” he said.

“I didn’t want to join a start-up that was doing things your parents used to do for you, like food delivery or laundry services,” Singh said. “I thought that tech could play a much bigger, and more socially impactful role in the world than that.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Othman Laraki’s first name.

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