You won't find Joshua Kushner tweeting his whereabouts, tagged in Instagram photos or blogging about tech.
Although the 28-year-old dates a Victoria's Secret model, the entrepreneur and venture capitalist keeps to himself. He rarely gives interviews and his firm's website, Thrive Capital, doesn't even list the companies he's invested in, despite an impressive portfolio which includes Instagram, NastyGal, Fab, Makerbot and GroupMe.
That may be why Kushner has been able to keep his plans to disrupt the health care industry quiet for nearly two years. But under everyone's nose he's poached engineers from Google, plucked a CTO from Tumblr, and raised $40 million.
The company Kushner is launching with Microsoft's former director of health care, Kevin Nazemi, and former McKinsey & Company computer scientist , Mario Schlosser, is called Oscar. It will be a full-blown insurance company that rivals longstanding entities such as Aetna and UnitedHealth. But Oscar will be transparent, making bills and charges easy for customers to consume via technology.
Oscar is set to launch in January 2014. Kushner's team was just granted a New York health insurance license this month. Oscar will begin enrolling New Yorkers this fall who are seeking insurance under Obama's Affordable Care Act. Schlosser, Nazemi, and Kushner are joined by 22 employees including CTO Fredrik Nylander, former head of engineering and operations at Tumblr. Vinod Khosla and Charlie Baker, a former Governor candidate who ran Harvard Pilgrim in Massachusetts, are on Oscar's board.
Raising $40 million before launch isn't always smart. It didn't work out for Sean Parker, who raised $34 million for a social video company Airtime, or Bill Nguyen who raised $41 million for Color, which flopped. But we're told all $40 million of this fundraise, which comes from Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst, Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, and a number of angel investors, is necessary. Reinventing the health care industry isn't easy, and most of the money Kushner has raised isn't operational; $29 million of the $40 million fundraise is stashed away in reserves thanks to industry regulations.
Oscar is Kushner's third venture. His first, Vostu, was a gaming company that rivaled Zynga in Brazil but has since gone through a series of layoffs. Kushner stepped away from Vostu when he raised Thrive Capital's first institutional round in 2011, the investment firm he started when he was 25. Thrive Capital has raised more than $200 million to invest in startups. Kushner will continue running Thrive Capital while working on Oscar.
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