After six months of relative anonymity, Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, has announced that he is launching his own health IT firm called Picture of Health. Schwartz served at Sun until it was acquired by Oracle.
One of the few Fortune 500 CEO bloggers, Schwartz was recognized over the past few years for his efforts to bring greater transparency into the corporate world. His public idealism called for the “information age” to give way to a “participation age,” in which participants drive social, economic and political progress.
His blogs, however, became the butt of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's mockery. When Schwartz exited Sun, he posted a brief haiku on Twitter. His tweet included fewer than 140 characters: “Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more.”
On September 9, Schwartz used the blogging medium once again, this time to announce his Picture of Health new startup.
Details about the start-up are largely unknown, but Schwartz says it will focus on “the intersection of innovation and public health,” and will be co-founded by friend Walter Smith, a Carnegie Mellon graduate in applied mathematics and co-founder of Jackson Fish Market, a designer and builder of consumer websites, have decided to go into business together. Smith, also a former Microsoft software architect who worked on Internet Explorer, Windows and MSN, as well as an Apple software developer, will act as CTO of the firm.
Why health? “It’s ultimately a personal choice for both of us,” writes Schwartz. “The most exciting (and frankly, the largest) opportunities were those that changed lives, that changed the way you thought about or lived in the world.” It’s not that he didn’t love winning SAP deals to consolidate regional bank processes, he adds, but it was “hard to feel an emotional bond to the outcome (especially when the banks were collapsing, and Moore’s Law was miniaturizing those wins).”
According to Schwartz, everyone cares about health in a deeply personal way (it’s tough to say the same about specialized microprocessors).
“Mums, dads, children, friends, loved ones, nurses, doctors, even insurance companies and governments—everyone on earth, in one form or another, cares about health and well being,” he says. “To me, that’s easy to get excited about.”
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