Health tech company Color banks $167M funding round to reach unicorn status

Color
Color says it will use the $167 million in funding to expand its work building public health technology and infrastructure for governments, employers, and other institutions that serve large populations, executives said. (Color)

Health technology company Color launched in 2015 with a focus on gene testing and precision genomics.

The company has expanded its capabilities to focus on improving key health infrastructure systems across the U.S. – including those related to the “last mile” delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

The San Francisco-based company scored a $167 million Series D financing round that values the company at $1.5 billion. Color is now the latest health technology “unicorn,” an industry term for a private startup worth over $1 billion.

The round was led by General Catalyst and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., with participation from Viking Global Investors and others.

The company has raised $278 million in total financing to date. 

RELATED: United Airlines teams up with Color to make COVID-19 tests available to passengers

Color will use the funding to expand its work building public health technology and infrastructure for governments, employers, and other institutions that serve large populations, executives said.

"We are building the rails for a national technology-based public health infrastructure," said Color CEO Othman Laraki in a statement.

The company will now work to expand its technology to improve access to both COVID-19 testing, genomic testing and counseling, and building to solve the logistics challenges of vaccine distribution. Color also is looking at further expansion to improve access services such as cancer screenings, reproductive healthcare, and vaccine and pharmaceutical delivery, the company said.

"The inability to deliver basic healthcare services during the biggest health crisis of our lifetime is a direct consequence of the lack of a public health delivery model," he said. " Public health does not only mean a government-funded model. A modern public health infrastructure should enable all of the stakeholders in the health of large populations – including governments, employers, and schools – to support the essential health needs of the people they serve."

By investing in the technology that ensures easy and affordable access to healthcare, Color is creating the infrastructure that will serve public health for decades to come, Laraki said.

Color works directly with employers, unions, and governments to provide healthcare services such as testing and telehealth services for preventive health and infectious disease management. Its clients include the Teamsters Union, the National Institutes of Health, Salesforce, and the State of California.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Color has partnered with more than 100 major employers and universities to provide critical testing programs. Color's software is powering the State of California's efforts with PerkinElmer to process up to 150,000 COVID-19 tests daily, according to the company.

RELATED: JPM20: Health technology company Color scores $75M funding round to scale its infrastructure

Color's partnership with the City of San Francisco has helped the city maintain one of the nation's highest per-capita COVID-19 testing rates.

In September, United Airlines announced it was working with Color to roll out the first COVID-19 testing program for air travelers. The airline began offering COVID-19 tests—either rapid tests at the airport or mail-in at home tests prior to travel—to passengers flying from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaiian airports in October.

Color also is rolling out vaccine delivery systems to state and local governments, employers, and higher education institutions. 

"The opportunity to design the future of public health through technology cannot be overstated," said Hemant Taneja, managing director at General Catalyst. "Color understands that often, challenges in healthcare aren't scientific or medical in nature, but rather due to access barriers. The hyper-scaling of access is perhaps the most impactful function of digital technology - and the fact that Color approaches healthcare from this vantage point makes it among the most important companies in the industry." 

Color also announced the hiring of Claire Vo as chief product officer. Vo moved over from Optimizely, where she restructured the company's products to serve Fortune 500 enterprises.

Emily Reuter also has joined Color as vice president of strategy and operations. Reuter was formerly head of investor relations for Uber and worked on the ride-hailing company’s IPO.