Monday, July 18, 2005

WebMD Health IPO: Separating Content from IT Solutions

At a time when many large publishing companies are forcefully reinventing themselves as "solutions providers" and are shifting their investments toward new management, technology, and strategies that reposition their companies away from being perceived as content publishers, WebMD is taking a different tack.

With its revised IPO filing, WebMD Health is to be spun-off from WebMD Inc. [Note, there will be some changes in the companies' names to help distinguish between them, but WebMD Health is the entity that will retain "WebMD" in its name, whereas the parent will adopt a new name that doesn't include "WebMD".] The WebMD health entity is described as a network of online destination sites for health information, an advertising network for marketers who want to reach health-focused consumers, physicians, and other health professionals, and a provider of personalized portal solutions for employers and health plans, which incorporate "access to individual user data, specific health plan benefit data, relevant health-oriented content, treatment decision-support applications, personal communication services, and integreated third party applications and data".

The parent company will retain the businesses that provide IT systems for healthcare providers, healthcare reimbursement cycle management services, and transaction-related administrative services for healthcare payers. The parent also manufactures and distributes plastic products used in healthcare through its Porex business. Furthermore, the parent will retain majority control through Class A stock.

Why spin off the content portion of the company from the administrative applications/IT solutions portion of the company when other publishing-centered companies such as Wolters Kluwer are diligently trying to gain a stronger foothold in the applications/solutions space? It would take more time and space than I can provide in a short weblog to answer that question. However, the simple answer and most likely driver behind this move is the tremendous level of demand for healthcare content from consumers, healthcare providers, employers, health plan providers, and last but not least, advertisers that want to place their messages on respected health-related content sites. The heightened demand also explains why WebMD increased the maximum offering amount of the IPO from $50 million to $100 million in this amendment to its original S1 filed just two months ago.
Post a Comment