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Health tech platform Color is a unicorn after new funding round values it at $1.5 billion

Health technology company Color today announced a $167 million Series D fundraising round that values the company at $1.5 billion.

The funding round, which brings the startup’s total funding to $278 million, was led by venture firm General Catalyst with participation from Viking Global Investors and funds managed by T. Rowe Price. Viking and T. Rowe also participated in a January 2020 funding round that raised $75 million.

Color has not disclosed a valuation with recent rounds, making this the first official confirmation that the company is a “unicorn,” a colloquial industry term for a private startup worth over $1 billion.

Color was founded in 2015 with a focus on gene testing. The company uses genetic data to advise patients about inherited health risks and connects them to health counselors to help them respond to those risks. In contrast to retail services like 23andMe, Color works directly with employers, unions, and governments to provide services to constituents. Color’s clients now include the Teamsters Union, the National Institutes of Health, Salesforce, and the State of California.

Color is now building on the telehealth and health data management features of its genomics services to create something more all-encompassing. “We are building the rails for a national technology-based public health infrastructure,” Color CEO Othman Laraki said in a statement, citing the troubled response to COVID-19 as evidence for the need for “modern public health infrastructure.” Laraki did not cite the U.S. explicitly in his assessment, but the decentralized U.S. health system has shown particular fragility during the pandemic.

As with many other telehealth and health technology companies, the coronavirus pandemic has been a catalyst for growth and change at Color. During the pandemic, Color developed its own COVID test, which received emergency FDA authorization in July and is notable for being authorized for individual at-home use. Color says it now manages COVID testing programs for more than 100 major employers and universities.

Also notable in today’s announcement was the hiring of Emily Reuter as vice president of strategy and operations. Reuter was formerly head of investor relations for Uber and worked on the ride-hailing company’s IPO. That suggests Color could be planning to go public, though the company has not discussed those plans publicly.

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