Meet the Investor: Jon Kaplan, CRO at Pinterest, is Backing Health Moonshots

Jon Kaplan, long-time tech executive and Chief Revenue Officer at Pinterest, is backing a new generation of health tech founders from around the world through StartUp Health’s Moonshot Impact Fund.

Jon Kaplan, Chief Revenue Officer at Pinterest

Investors, learn how you can join Ira Brind and other investors who are backing health moonshots through StartUp Health’s impact fund.

Jon Kaplan, long-time tech executive and Chief Revenue Officer at Pinterest, has been a supporter of StartUp Health since its first fund. Now, nearly a decade later, he’s backing a new generation of health tech founders from around the world through StartUp Health’s Moonshot Impact Fund. We caught up with him to learn why he invests in healthcare and to get his leadership advice for today’s health transformers.


StartUp Health: What got you into investing initially?

Jon Kaplan: It’s always interesting to see how really the application of technology can be applied to new industries, and everything that I’ve focused on related to investing is really based on that principle. What industries could be transformed using technology in really different ways to solve new problems? In the case of Startup Health, healthcare is a super exciting environment to which one can apply technology.

SUH: Have you had any experiences that really drove home the lack of technology in healthcare?

Mr. Kaplan: When I was at Google, I saw a couple of the founders of one of our acquisitions go off and start Flatiron Health and I saw the power of technology being applied to disease. Then obviously Google began Google Health initiatives, and I saw the bigger potential in the application of technology to the industry. The first thing that they tackled was putting glucose monitors into contact lenses. We met with a bunch of companies who could partner with us and the reaction was so overwhelmingly positive that I knew we were onto something.

SUH: Is there a sector within health that you’re particularly interested in–a specific health moonshot you’re passionate about?

Mr. Kaplan: I’m drawn to bold and ambitious goals like curing disease, including ending Alzheimer’s. I just wonder if we’re at the beginning stages of applying technology to solve those problems in very different ways where they were not solved before. That’s very exciting to me. We’re only a couple of years into that journey so it’s probably a multi-decade, if not, century-long journey that we’ll be on, to be honest. But I’m hopeful.

SUH: You could have invested with anyone, anywhere. What drew you to StartUp Health?

Mr. Kaplan: Well, I had a chance to meet the team early on and I was compelled by the vision. I was involved in StartUp Health’s first fund. Some of the early examples of types of companies that they were investing in made a lot of sense in terms of the application of technology to healthcare. I felt a good connection to StartUp Health and appreciated how they vetted companies based on the actual technology, from people with a medical background.

SUH: Here we are, on our third fund, and you’re still along for the ride — have you been able to see those initial visions come to fruition?

Mr. Kaplan: Yes, it’s been great to see the great performance of the fund. Importantly, you can see these companies getting acquired by bigger companies, you can see partnerships that have been a part of this journey as well, which I think is a validation of the approach. Good results, good partnerships, and seeing companies actually get acquired and absorbed into bigger companies. This tells you that the companies that they invest in are solving the problem that they intended to solve. And that ultimately means better outcomes for patients as well.

SUH: What is some advice that you would offer to a cohort of entrepreneurs as we go into the end of 2021?

Mr. Kaplan: If I think about my role as the Chief Revenue Officer for Pinterest, and what I’m doing every day, and how that might translate, I try to paint a vision for where the company is going and how we can help fulfill our mission. What is Pinterest going to look like in three to five years? I think sometimes people downplay the progress they are making at the moment because it doesn’t feel like you’re moving forward. Then all of a sudden you take a step back and you pick up your head, and you realize you’ve gone from zero to one or from one to two. I would tell entrepreneurs to stay focused on the vision, on the mission, and take a moment every once in a while to recognize how far they’ve come.

SUH: Any practical strategies on how to review your progress?

Mr. Kaplan: I have what I call “thinking time,” where I have four hours once every four weeks that are just dedicated to long-term strategic thinking. I bring people into those sessions, no presentations, it’s just all talking about longer-term strategy. Where should we go? What are the bigger bets we can make? And, practically speaking, this is a great time of year to do this. Reflect on the past year going into the new year, here’s what we accomplished, and here’s where we are on this journey through our mission and take a step back. The new year is always a good time to do that, take a step back and appreciate what you’ve accomplished, and understand they’re only on the first steps of that journey to the ultimate mission.

SUH: What vision do you have for the StartUp Health portfolio? Where do you want it to mature to, or evolve into?

Mr. Kaplan: It has matured. It has evolved. It has expanded the types of problems it’s trying to solve, and I think it should continue to do that. StartUp Health should continue to look at new problems and new promising areas where technology can be applied. There are things that are maybe not as clinical from a hospital point of view, or from a process point of view, but more about mental health. I would say this is a great example of what’s burgeoning right now, because of COVID-19 and the ways people feel coming out of that. There’s a lot of new issues within healthcare that are coming to the forefront and I would encourage founders and funds to think about how we should start to tackle some of those things, all in the spirit of helping people live their best life!

Investors: Learn how you can invest in Health Moonshots through StartUp Health’s rolling impact fund.

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Meet the Investor: Jon Kaplan, CRO at Pinterest, is Backing Health Moonshots was originally published in StartUp Health on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: @startuphealth

Meet the Investor: Jon Kaplan, CRO at Pinterest, is Backing Health Moonshots