(Bottles on the shelf in old pharmacy by Viktor Gladkov via Shutterstock)
Cal and Orsula Knowlton might just boost the Philly region’s health IT sector onto a national stage.
The husband and wife pair founded Tabula Rasa, the Moorestown, N.J., health IT company that filed for a $115 million initial public offering yesterday, according to an SEC filing. That’s just over the median IPO offering size in the U.S. in 2014: $96 million.
If the name Tabula Rasa doesn’t ring a bell, their company CareKinesis might. Focusing on the elderly, CareKinesis’ “e-prescribing” software aims to reduce hospitalizations by optimizing medications. Its customers are healthcare organizations that serve those on Medicare and Medicaid.
Tabula’s investors include local firms like Navy Yard-based Rittenhouse Ventures and Bethlehem, Pa.-based Originate Ventures. Radius Ventures, a New York firm, is also an investor. Investors can’t sell their shares for 180 days after the public offering, according to the filing.
The company is represented by Morgan Lewis, according to the filing. Morgan Lewis’s Steve Goodman declined to comment, citing SEC regulations.
Tabula Rasa did not respond to a request for comment and Rittenhouse Ventures’ Saul Richter declined to comment, citing SEC regulations.
The company employs 182, the majority of which are customer support staff, according to the filing. They also have a 29-person software development staff. Aside from their 15,000-square-foot Moorestown headquarters, which also has a pharmacy, Tabula has five offices across the country, including in Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco, Calif., where they also have pharmacies. (It’s not clear how many staffers work out of the Moorestown office.)
They plan to open a 75,000-square-foot office in Moorestown in the spring of 2016, and they’re committed to New Jersey: last year, the state gave Tabula up to $9.69 million in tax credits over 10 years to keep them from moving to Philadelphia.
The company made $48.4 million in revenue in 2014, a 93 percent jump over revenue in 2013, according to the filing. Their revenues saw a 45 percent jump in 2015, comparing revenues over the first three quarters of 2015 to the same period in 2014. CareKinesis scored a Drug Enforcement Agency approval for its e-prescribing platform last November.
This isn’t the Knowlton’s first rodeo.
The couple ran Center City pharmacy services company excelleRx — Cal was founder and CEO and Orsula was Chief Marketing Officer, and sold it to Omnicare for $268.8 million in 2005. The company, backed by local private equity firm LLR Partners, had 300 employees locally and 500 nationally when it sold, according to an Inquirer report. (The state, under the Rendell admininstration, gave excelleRx $3.8 million in incentives to grow in Philadelphia.)
Born and raised in New Jersey, Cal Knowlton went to Temple for undergrad and got his master’s in divinity (?!) from Princeton. He later got his Ph.D. in pharmaeconomics from the University of Maryland Baltimore. His boat, moored down the shore, is named Tabula Rasa.
The company’s family ties go further than Cal and Orsula, according to the SEC filing. Their son, Jeffrey Knowlton, is the director of business intelligence and their daughter, Dana Filippoli, is the director of marketing and communications. Filippoli’s husband, Joseph Filippoli, who used to be the director of information management for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is Tabula’s Chief Information Officer.
Other Knowlton in-laws that hold executive positions include Michael Ristagno (Senior Vice President of Client Services) and Robert Omlor (Senior Director of Client Services).
This appears to be the Philadelphia’s region’s biggest health IT IPO in recent memory. Life sciences companies like Spark Therapeutics and Aclaris Therapeutics have gone public, but the only other local health IT company that’s gone public was MEDecision, whose underwhelming IPO grossed $47 million in 2006 and got acquired for $121 million two years later. (Are we missing something? Let us know in the comments.)
That’s why this is such a big deal for the region’s health IT sector (though we’ll spend a parenthetical mourning the fact that they’re not in Philadelphia), as well as those working to make the region a hub for that kind of activity. As one source close to the deal told us, when you sell your company, it essentially disappears. But going public means the company is here to stay. This IPO is one way to bring national attention to the region’s health IT industry — something industry leaders are working desperately to do — and to build a company that could stand the test of time. Not to mention the spinoff talent it’ll produce.
It’s also worth noting that this is a company run by industry veterans, not your typical youthful startup wunderkinds, which adds a depth to the Philly tech scene. It sends the message that there’s not just one image of a tech founder out here.
Local tech leaders have long said we need a huge win to get the tech scene to the next level. Could this be one of them?