The Thinking Behind CareZone

I’m launching a new business today – it’s called CareZone.

I’ve spent roughly 25 years listening and responding to the technology needs of large institutions. It’s a great business.

But having seen the benefits technology delivered to enterprises, I’ve always found the most interesting innovations clustered around how those institutions responded to individuals. Technology has given voice to billions of people, and turned the market on its head: institutions accustomed to telling customers and citizens the rules of the road are now faced with individuals who can and do make their own decisions. Joined via social networks, or just acting in unison, individuals are now, and will forever be, the most powerful force on earth.

And after leaving Sun Microsystems in early 2010, I decided that was where I wanted to focus – on serving individuals, and creating products that would simplify and enhance their lives.

But I also believe you can only succeed where you’ve got domain knowledge.

And although I’ve been a student of social media since its infancy, it’s a crowded space, built upon a subtle premise: the more you share, the more valuable you are to the companies that package what you’ve shared for sale to advertisers. For most social media companies, privacy is toxic — it destroys what you can charge your real customers: the advertisers.

For some areas in life, that’s not an issue. I don’t mind sharing my love of my alma mater, my coffee preferences or engaging the twitterverse now and then.

But for what I and my co founder (Walter) were thinking about, that approach wouldn’t fit.

By birth or by choice, everyone has a family. And my family, like many of yours, has had its fair share of challenges – related to aging, health, development, long term planning, or the more mundane complexities of staying in sync across zip codes (and continents). These challenges surround private, family matters, which I do not want sold to the highest bidder.

Nor do the people we’ve spent the last year getting to know – parents, helpers, social workers, caregivers and friends. Making decisions about how you manage your own information is different than making decisions on behalf of your child, or someone who needs you. Where do you manage their information?

And that’s the basis for what we’re unveiling today: CareZone, a safe place for families to care and coordinate. If you’re caring for someone in need, you’ve likely faced the same challenges we’ve all faced – a desire to use modern Internet tools to stay organized and coordinated, with a lingering concern around where that information goes, who sees it and how it might be used in the future. We wanted to address those concerns up front.

First, CareZone is built on the assumption you’re caring for someone else, on whose behalf you might keep a journal, archive documents, manage information, or track medicines. We all know that caring for someone creates an endless stream of information — CareZone helps put you in control.

Second, CareZone’s default privacy setting is simple: only you can see what’s in your account. No one else. If you want to extend access to others, like your spouse, extended family, or an emergency response team, you make (and can revoke) that decision explicitly.

If you choose to share your account with, say, your husband, wife or brother-in-law, you’ll both have access to the same information, emergency contacts or reference documents. Families can share journals or documents, medication lists can be shared with a new helper, a babysitter can have easy access to care instructions or an emergency contact list, or your Dad can have a safe place to share his accounts, passwords or last wishes.

To be clear, CareZone is a business predicated upon privacy: we are funded by families, not by advertisers, which means you won’t see ads, and you’ll always know our highest priority is to protect your informatoin, not sell it. Unlike a social media site, you’re not our product, you’re our customer.

What we’re unveiling today is the first commercial version of our service – and we’d love your feedback. The 1.0 version includes the following apps:

  • A Profile – to provide a permanent reference of key information
  • A Journal – to manage private observations, or have a private conversation among family members
  • A Medication manager – to organize all meds/therapies in one place
  • A To Do Manager – to document and assign items to be completed
  • A Contact list – to provide a common, private directory of family, helpers, vendors, doctors, etc.
  • Notes – to store instructions, passwords, account numbers, etc.
  • Uploaded Files – a safe place to store reports, advance directives, any other important files you don’t want to lose or might want to share with family or helpers

Until March 17, 2012, our service is free for one year — for everyone that creates an account. These charter accounts (up to three individuals being cared for) can be shared by as many family members as you wish. After March 17th (and after one year for our charter accounts), our pricing is $5/month, or $48/year if you pay up front – and sharing access to the account (with family, or anyone you choose) remains free. Our service is priced based upon the number of individuals being cared for — not the number of people you invite to help.

And in terms of who are we are as a company…

We are a small company of very experienced people, headquartered in the cloud (and physically in San Francisco and Seattle). We devote a portion of our profits to good works (stay tuned), and are committed to making a difference in the lives of those we serve — and the global communities in which we operate.

You’ll hear a lot more from us in the weeks and months ahead, and I’m really interested to hear your feedback.

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter, or read our blogs, here.

_______________________________________________

There’s been lots of coverage of our launch, btw. Take a look…

AllThingsD

TechCrunch

Fast Company

San Jose Mercury News (Silicon Valley’s news)

San Francisco Chronicle

Wall Street Journal

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February 15, 2012 · 12:24 am

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