Joshua Kushner Has Quietly Amassed 30 Employees And $40 Million To Shake Up Health Care With A Startup, Oscar

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 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 co-founders from Tumblr and Microsoft, and raised $40 million.

The company Kushner is launching with Microsoft’s former director of health care, Kevin Nazemi and former head of engineering and operations at Tumblr, 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 licence this month. Oscar will begin enrolling New Yorkers this fall who are seeking insurance under Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Raising $40 million before launch isn’t always smart. It didn’t work out for Sean Parker, who raised $35 million for a social video company Airtime, or Bill Nguyen who raised $40 million for colour and flopped. But we’re told all $40 million of this fundraise is necessary. Reinventing the health care and insurance industries isn’t easy, and most of the money Kusher has raised isn’t operational. When you have an insurance company, there are reserve requirements. Much of the $40 million will be stashed away in case of emergency, 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. Thrive Capital, the investment firm Kushner started three years ago, has raised more than $150 million to invest in startups.

 

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