By Claude Solnik
Softheon launched in 2000 with a pretty good business model, helping process payments over the Web for giants such as Sony, Gillette, JC Penney, J.P. Morgan Chase, and AOL. But it soon saw a possible billion-dollar opportunity in health care.
Softheon and Perot Systems won a contract for “RomneyCare” in Massachusetts, helping design and operate the first health insurance exchange that became a model for the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Stony Brook-based Softheon CEO Eugene Sayan says his company today is the largest ACA administration and payment processing source in the nation, serving nearly 40 percent of consumers who receive health insurance on federal and state-based exchanges. The company has processed more than $10 billion in payments since the ACA launched and currently serves more than 20 million people.
“It’s had incredible organic growth,” says Joseph Campolo, Managing Partner at Ronkonkoma-based law firm of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP, and Softheon’s counsel. “It’s not far-fetched to believe they will be a unicorn in the future.”
If you think unicorns are mythic creatures, you probably haven’t been following finance. A unicorn company is a private startup with a valuation of more than $1 billion.
It’s not easy to identify companies with such a high valuation, because private companies rarely publicize financials.
Most officially become unicorns only after much smaller funding rounds at a ratio valuing them at $1 billion.
Lyft, Uber, WeWork Labs and Airbnb reached valuations of more than $1 billion long before they became a glimmer in Wall Street’s eye. Softheon hasn’t rushed to raise money lately, as it grows organically.
“There’s no inventory, no cost of goods,” Campolo says of firms like Softheon with the potential to break the billion-dollar barrier. “I think the way health care is going, it’s probably the number one field to produce new unicorns.”
Softheon’s rapid growth came as the company reinvented itself, tapping into health insurance marketplaces serving government employers, and payment processing.
“I have never seen so much money out there and such high valuations on companies,” Campolo says. “My expectation is we’re going to see more unicorns in the future, making them less rare.”
Meanwhile, Softheon recently signed a three-year agreement with AARP to design and manage an Internet-based health and wellness platform to serve 38 million AARP members.
As Campolo sees it, the value threshold for this mythic monetary beast may rise. Investors already can hunt “decacorns” valued at $10 billion and “hectocorns” valued at $100 billion.
“Five years from now, a billion-dollar evaluation won’t be a unicorn anymore,” Campolo says, “I think it’ll be five billion at that point. That’s how fast things are going right now.”