Our Investment In Lyra Health

We’re excited about today’s announcement that we’re co-leading the Series A financing round for Lyra Health. We love backing great people early, and helping them tackle big, important problems. When we get a chance to do this, it’s the best part of our job.

The Lyra team is special, starting with founder/CEO David Ebersman. David is extremely talented, intelligent, driven and results-oriented. And he also has a lot of heart. He’s the kind of leader who others are inspired to follow. And he’s on a mission with Lyra — an inexorable march to build an important and lasting company. David and his team are focused on transforming mental health care through technology with a human touch — to get more patients the care they need, when they need it.

We have an unprecedented decades and decades of combined due diligence on this guy! Starting with my Partner David Sze, who went to summer camp with David Ebersman when they were 9 and 12 respectively. Turns out that David Sze had an eye for deal flow even as a Counselor in Training. I first met David in college at Brown, and then got to know him after college when we both moved to the Bay Area. David distinguished himself early in his career and over an extended stretch at Genentech, where he worked in product development, operations, strategy and finance. As investors in Facebook, we were happy to see David join the company as CFO in 2009, and he had a very positive impact as a leader there over the subsequent 5 years. Earlier this year, when David let us know that he had started a new company, we told him that we wanted to be involved when the time was right.

David has surrounded himself with a team that has deep expertise in health care, starting with his co-founder Dena Bravata, who was previously the Chief Medical Officer at Castlight. Our co-leads on this financing round, Bryan Roberts and Bob Kocher from Venrock, have been involved with David from the start. While Venrock is a leading healthcare IT investor, Greylock brings complementary expertise and networks in scaling software-driven businesses. We think that Venrock’s peanut butter combined with Greylock’s chocolate should provide the right foundational investor mix to help Lyra to successfully scale.

Its no secret that our health care system is very big and very broken. What may be less obvious to some is that mental health is an area of especially large challenges and opportunities. More than 50 million Americans struggle with conditions like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. The significant majority of these patients don’t receive proper care, as their conditions are undiagnosed, improperly diagnosed, or diagnosed but untreated. The result is unnecessary suffering for patients and their families, and massive avoidable expense.

The mental health care system is like a doubling cube of spiraling costs. More than $100 billion is spent directly on treating mental health issues. But that’s just the start. There’s an additional $200 billion in estimated impact from lost productivity of people in the workforce who are suffering from these conditions. Also, mental health issues often co-exist alongside physical health issues. People who have mental health conditions therefore have disproportionately high overall medical costs, which translates to an estimated $400 billion of additional expenses on the system.

When someone is suffering from a mental health issue, there are few ways available today to find the most effective care. How can you help people find the right providers and treatments? And then how can you leverage data and a network of outcomes to make the whole system smarter and smarter?

Lyra Health is partnering with employers, health plans, and providers to reach patients and improve treatment. The Lyra solution is based on a combination of software (predictions, matching, outcomes tracking) and people (a leveraged team of Lyra care managers and supervising psychiatrists). The Lyra system helps to identify and engage people with mental health issues; then guides and matches patients to the right providers and treatments; and then rigorously assesses the data from treatment outcomes to understand what works and to recirculate these insights back into improving the system.

Lyra is tackling complex problems. They are applying software and data science to build products that will dramatically lower health care costs and improve human lives. Taking on these challenges is not for the faint of heart. But the prize is well worth it. Hundreds of billions of costs. Tens of millions of lives. We are looking forward to partnering with David and the Lyra team as they pursue their mission to transform mental health care.

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