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Haven, the health venture led by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan, just lost its No. 2 exec

Jack Stoddard

Source: BusinessWire

Haven, the health joint venture formed last year by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan, has lost Chief Operating Officer Jack Stoddard just nine months into his new role.

Stoddard, who was most recently general manger for digital health at Comcast, confirmed to CNBC on Thursday that he departed Haven for personal reasons, including the length of his commute from his home in Philadelphia to Haven’s headquarters in Boston. Stoddard was Haven’s second hire in 2018, following Atul Gawande, the renowned author and surgeon who was named CEO last June. 

“Jack played an important role in the early stages of Haven, but we understand his decision to leave the company for family reasons,” a spokesperson from Haven said in a statement. “We want to thank him for all of his contributions.”

Stoddard officially ended his tenure at Haven last week, and no replacement has been named.

Losing such a key executive so early in the process could be a big setback for Haven, which has laid out an ambitious effort to bring down health-care costs, starting with the combined 1.2 million employees at the three companies. The entity, which is set up as a nonprofit, was named Haven in March and at the time had about a dozen people.

Other key executives include Chief Technology Officer Serkan Kutan, formerly of ZocDoc, and Dana Gelb Safran, who Haven hired from Blue Cross Blue Shield in Massachusetts to run analytics projects.

Prior to joining Haven, Stoddard worked at Accolade, a health-technology start-up, and at Comcast, the parent company of CNBC. He said the the frequent travel to Boston — five hours by car and around 90 minutes by air each way — was taking him away from his family.

“I wish Atul and the group the best,” he said.

Challenges ahead

With or without Stoddard, Haven faces some stiff challenges. Before coming up with a name or bringing a product to market, the group found itself deep in a hiring dispute with insurance company UnitedHealth Group, which sued  former executive David Smith for stealing trade secrets and taking them to Haven.

Stoddard interviewed Smith for the Haven job. Previously, Stoddard was part of the executive team that created Optum, which was later acquired by UnitedHealth. According to court testimony, Stoddard indicated that Haven planned to make health care easier to understand, less expensive and ideally produce better outcomes for employees, which could be a competitive threat to incumbents.

Haven’s website says its other focuses include Improving the process of navigating the complex health-care system and helping with access to affordable treatments and prescription drugs.

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