Eric Lefkofsky Searches Coast to Coast for a Cure

You may not have heard of Eric Lefkofsky, but you are very likely to be familiar with one of his business ventures. Eric made a name for himself when he took InnerWorkings and Echo Global Logistics public, but his third public company, Groupon, is the most recognizable.

Eric Lefkofsky earned $1.79 billion over the years with e-commerce startups, and he is poised to move on to even bigger and better things. Recently, he has launched his latest company, Tempus, and it has a very lofty goal. With this company, he is going to assemble an extensive genomic database of cancer. The purpose of this database is to allow doctors to compare their patients’ DNA to the database so that they can individualize their therapies. With this ability, doctors can help their patients live with cancer for many more years than they could have previously. They may even be able to cure some people.

Eric realized that technology was progressing at breakneck speed, but it was not progressing as quickly in the medical arena. He found that physicians were collecting a tremendous amount of data on their patients, but they did not have the means to analyze it.

Several startups and nonprofits are also engaged in finding the best ways to treat diseases. The industry has been able to develop because it isn’t as expensive as it used to be to perform genetic screening tests or store the data. Because of this, this area of technology has grown considerably, but Eric believes that Tempus has an advantage over these other companies.

Most importantly, Eric has partnered Tempus with the most prominent hospitals, and together, they will be collecting an enormous amount of data. Tempus also has a 20,000 –square-foot lab that will be used to perform gene-sequencing tests. Tempus also provides physicians with software that allows them to compare their patients’ DNA profiles with the profiles of other cancer patients. This will make it possible for them to find treatments that have worked the best for patients with similar genetic profiles.

Eric decided to step down as Groupon’s CEO in 2015 to concentrate his efforts on building Tempus into a formidable company. He hasn’t given up his interests in Groupon entirely; he is still chairman of the company and is its largest shareholder. As the leader of Tempus, one of his first actions was to hire Kevin White who has extensive experience in the genetic industry as a geneticist. For the past 10 years, Kevin has been building the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology at the University of Chicago.

Brad Keywell is Eric’s business partner, and they are 50-50 partners in Tempus and many other ventures as well. They say that they decide to take on a new venture when they recognize that they personally have a need for the particular product or service. They find out there is a problem, and they set out to apply a solution.


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