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Healthtech firm Accolade is buying telemedicine start-up 2nd.MD for $460 million, sources say

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Raj Singh, chief executive officer of Accolade speaks during the GeekWire Summit event in Seattle, Washington, Oct. 3, 2018.

David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Accolade, a health care technology company that helps employees navigate their medical plans, is buying telemedicine start-up 2nd.MD to bolster its ability to provide users with second opinions, CNBC has learned exclusively.

Accolade is close to announcing the acquisition of Houston-based Innovation Specialists, parent company of 2nd.MD, for about $460 million, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The transaction will be half in cash and the rest in Accolade shares, a portion of which is contingent on revenue targets, and will close next month, said the people, who declined to be identified speaking about the deal.

The move is said to nearly double Accolade’s addressable market to about $46 billion by giving the company a provider of expert medical opinions from a network of U.S. doctors. Founded in 2011, 2nd.MD automates the process of getting second opinions so they happen within days over video or telephone, rather than taking weeks to schedule as is more typical.

“At a critical moment in someone’s health care journey, when you’re making a decision about whether to get a surgery or undertake a particular treatment, often you’re looking for expert guidance,” Accolade CEO Raj Singh said this week in a Zoom interview.

“2nd.MD will take your medical records and provide them to a network of physicians who specialize in those disease categories, and those physicians will do a video consultation to give you another opinion about what the right next step is,” he said.

The start-up has 300 corporate customers with more than seven million employees and about $35 million in revenue last year, according to documents viewed by CNBC. Singh said that he plans on incorporating 2nd.MD into his company’s products, as well as offering it on a standalone basis.

Just as the digitization of finance has attracted billions of dollars in investment and a flurry of M&A activity, the nascent health tech field has seen a surge in interest during the coronavirus pandemic. Digital health start-ups around the world attracted an estimated $24.1 billion in venture capital funding in 2020, 29% higher than the previous year and hitting a record in the third quarter, according to CB Insights.

“How consumers access care and how they want to make decisions about care, all of that is changing, driven by a healthcare system that’s under enormous stress,” Singh said. “You are clearly seeing more opportunities for consolidation in this space.”

Accolade, which went public in July, counts CNBC parent Comcast as both a major customer and an investor. Seattle-based Accolade was advised by Goldman Sachs in the deal.


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Malware reportedly found on laptops given to children in England | Education

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An investigation has been launched into reports that some of the laptops handed out to vulnerable children for homeschooling in England are infected with malware.

According to an online forum, teachers from a school in Bradford noticed the issue and believe it contacts Russian servers.

“Upon unboxing and preparing them it was discovered that a number of the laptops are infected with a self-propagating network worm (Gamarue I),” the forum message says.

Gamarue I, identified by Microsoft in 2012, is a worm capable of downloading files on to a PC. According to the tech firm, it can be installed when a spam email attachment is opened and can also copy itself to any USB flash drives connected to the computer.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it was looking into the problem as a matter of urgency but did not think it was widespread. “We are aware of an issue with a small number of devices,” a spokesperson said.

“And we are investigating as an urgent priority to resolve the matter as soon as possible. DfE IT teams are in touch with those who have reported this issue. We believe this is not widespread.”

The government has committed to giving 1.3m laptops and tablets to poorer children during lockdown, with more than 800,000 of these delivered already.

Brian Higgins, a security specialist at Comparitech, said: “Whilst it is unclear where these particular laptops were sourced, it is absolutely vital that anyone seeking to source devices, whether they are bought using sponsorship or donated directly, be fully aware of the risk that they may contain dormant or active malicious software and research appropriate methods to make them safe before they are distributed to homes and families.

“The potential for malicious software to be used against recipients is not limited to the children for which the devices are intended, as access to the internet will no doubt be useful for other family and friends outside of school hours.

“I would highly recommend that anyone distributing devices include some information about online safety.”


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Thumb injury forces video gamer to retire

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Attendees play the Call of Duty: Black Ops III game by Activision Blizzard during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A 25-year-old professional video gamer has been forced to retire due to a thumb injury.

Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto announced he’s “taking a step back from competitive Call of Duty” on Twitter.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write, I am stepping down and will no longer compete in competitive Call of Duty for the foreseeable future,” he said in a separate blog post.

“It breaks my heart to step away from a game I put my heart and soul into every single day for eight years,” he added. “Tearing up just writing this, but I don’t know what else to do at this point.”

Paparatto plays for an esports team called New York Subliners and he has earned $387,019 from 87 tournaments, according to Esports Earnings. His largest prize from a single tournament came in April 2018, when he won $53,125 in a Call of Duty: Cold War II competition.

The U.S. gamer struggled with weakness in his thumb and his wrist a few years ago while playing a game called FaZe Clan. He had to have surgery as a result.

“Going through that process of getting healthy again was one of the hardest things I ever had to do both physically and mentally, which led to a lot of stress and anxiety,” he said. “Unfortunately, the injury has returned making it really hard for me to compete at the highest level against some of the best players in the world.”

He said that playing through the pain in his hand “just isn’t possible anymore” and that he doesn’t enjoy competing when he can’t be the “ZooMaa everyone knows and loves.”

Fans and fellow gamers shared their support following his announcement. 

Many professional gamers train or compete for over 10 hours a day, and some of them rake in over a $1 million a year in the process. However, the physical and mental strain on the body can sometimes result in health problems.  

Sam Matthews, founder and chief executive of Fnatic, told CNBC in December: “These people are fit and healthy largely, but there’s always an anomaly to the rule.”



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Samsung Galaxy S21 review: High-end version is gorgeous

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Samsung Galaxy S21 review: High-end version is gorgeous