But we were way ahead of our time. And I wasn’t an engineer, so it was harder for me to appreciate how difficult some of these things could be commercialized. The first iPhone came out in 2007. If you go back and look at “Knowledge Navigator” from 1987, it looks remarkably like a tablet computer today. To anyone who sees the “Knowledge Navigator” today and wasn’t around in the 1980s, it looks pretty ordinary, but it was considered outrageous when we showed it.

That’s just the reality of being in hi-tech: You take risks, sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. In the case of the things we were doing, I guess we were too far ahead of our time for a practical standpoint, but it eventually happened.

Do you see any parallels in the way that Tim Cook is running Apple now to the way you did?


Tim Cook is a superb executive. He’s probably the best executive in the world at running a business on Apple’s scale, keeping true to the vision that Steve Jobs had, recruiting and retaining excellent talent. And Tim’s done a terrific job in a crisis, as he did recently with the FBI trying to get a backdoor into the iPhone.

I have nothing but huge respect for what Tim Cook is doing at Apple.

Do you think the future of Apple is sound? Do you see the same kind of excitement that’s pervaded product launches in recent years continuing?

I think that Apple’s in a different stage today than it’s ever been before. It’s got a huge responsibility to an incredibly large user population that loves Apple’s products, that expects Apple not necessarily to be the first at what they do, but they expect Apple to be the best .

They’ve lived up to that with the iPhone in particular. I happen to be a big fan of the iPad Pro—I think it’s one of the best products Apple’s ever introduced. It isn’t probably as successful as some people had hoped, but in terms of the quality of the product,  I use it all the time. To me, it’s a spectacular product, but it hasn’t turned out to be a blockbuster.

Do you think Apple will be in a position to have any of these moonshot moments again?

I couldn’t speculate. I’m not at Apple and haven’t been involved in it for several decades. I’m a big Apple fan, but I have no insider perspective. And I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.

I’m much more interested in the things I’m involved with, which is disruption in healthcare, in fintech. I co-founded Theta Interactive—we’re now up to 1,000 employees and we’re the largest independent cloud marketing company in the US, if not the world.

Between healthcare and fintech—and the other ventures you’re working on—what excites you most about the future of technology?

I learned something when I showed up at Apple, I was a veteran of 10 years of the cola wars. In that case, Pepsi had won. We’d gone from a fairly small regional soft drink brand when I became marketing VP in 1970 to becoming the largest-selling consumer packaged goods in the United States.

I thought business was all about competition and winning. And then I remembered one time I was in the Macintosh lab with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs late at night, and Bill and Steve are talking about their ‘noble cause’ to empower knowledge workers with tools for the mind that would make the individual incredibly productive, and they would change the world one person at a time.

I said to myself, “I’ve never heard anything like this.” A noble cause. It was an entirely new way of thinking about business; we’d never talked about noble causes when I was in the soft drink industry. We talked about market share. So that insight that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had about a noble cause—and remember, most of the time they were arguing with each other, but the one thing they never argued about was the importance of this noble cause to change the world—and so that’s what really motivates me today.

That’s why I’m interested in disruptive innovation in what seems to be an unsustainable healthcare system in the US. It has everything to do with having a noble cause to completely rethink point-of-care, point-of-sale, particularly around the most expensive part of the health system, which is the 5% of the population who are chronic care patients who represent over 50% of the healthcare spend.

These problems are solvable.

Do think there are any countries that could serve as a model for the US healthcare system?

There are some good role models. You can go to India for a cataract operation in one of these very modern, extremely qualified hospitals that do nothing but cataract operations, and it costs $50 per operation.

France has figured out how to build their medical system so it focuses on outcomes as opposed to procedures, the way we’re organized in the US. They’re able to deliver high-quality healthcare for about half the cost of what we do in the US.

Singapore has healthcare for about half the cost per capita of what we have in the US.

From these few pocket examples it is possible to completely rethink the way we deliver healthcare, particularly to the most expensive patients. Part of it is getting people to focus on behavioral health. If you can get people to modify their behavior, you can save billions and billions of dollars in the healthcare system in the United States.

Imagine if you could get everybody to lose 20 lbs., you could dramatically lower the cost of healthcare in the United States by many, many billions of dollars. So maybe that’s not realistic, but it is realistic that we can begin to shift the incentives to the providers, the hospitals, to focus on what are called bundled services (and population health) and focusing on wellness, not just treating people for a sick event.

Those are going to become the role models for how we disrupt healthcare on a much larger scale over the next several years. It isn’t like we have to speculate whether these things will work—these things do work—the real questions is how do you build them to scale?

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