Khosla Ventures, the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm whose interests range from biofuels to spaceflight, was revealed today as the lead investor in Viome, the wellness monitoring startup co-founded by Seattle-area entrepreneur Naveen Jain.
Khosla’s role was among the additional details that Viome provided today as it formally announced its $15 million Series A funding round. The investment first came to light last week in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but Khosla’s role wasn’t previously disclosed.
The Series A round brings Viome’s total funding to $21 million, the company said.
Viome said one seat on its board would go to Khosla Ventures’ founder, managing partner Vinod Khosla. The 62-year-old, Indian-born billionaire is a legend in Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic circles.
“Viome is a transformational healthcare company with a team that comprises decades of experience across AI, health and science, and a singular mission of keeping people healthy,” Khosla said in a news release. “By investing in Viome, we’re investing in a future where preventable illnesses are a thing of the past.”
That sentiment echoes Jain’s view: “With Viome, we’re allowing people to reclaim control of their health so that chronic illness can become a choice rather than just a matter of bad luck,” Jain, the company’s CEO, said in the release.
The key to Viome’s monitoring service is a series of diagnostic tests that analyze subscribers’ blood, urine, saliva and stool samples to assess their metabolism as well as the genetic makeup of the microbial communities inside their guts.
Researchers are finding increasing evidence that the balance of a person’s gut microbes, known collectively as the microbiome, is linked a wide range of health factors. Viome’s AI-based platform, developed in partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, analyzes the data from the diagnostic tests and offers personalized recommendations on diet and lifestyle.
The monitoring service doesn’t yet offer medical advice, however. For that, Viome would have to get the go-ahead from the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Current price for the service is $59 a month, or $599 a year, which covers two rounds of testing in the course of a year.
Several thousand customers are using the service under the terms of Viome’s early beta program, the company said, and additional customers in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, India and the Middle East can sign up to join the program when availability is widened next month.
Viome said it has 45 employees in Los Alamos, New York and Cupertino, Calif.
Like Khosla, Jain has been involved in a wide variety of startups, including BlueDot, Moon Express, InfoSpace, Intelius and TalentWise. The $6 million in initial funding for Viome came from BlueDot, which Jain co-founded as an “innovation factory” to jump-start technological moonshots.
Jain’s career has not been without controversy: Infospace was hit hard when the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, leading to a years-long flurry of lawsuits that entangled Jain, other executives and shareholders. Millions of dollars changed hands in a series of legal settlements to resolve the disputes.
Khosla’s newly reported involvement should raise Viome’s profile in what’s becoming a crowded field of ventures that monitor the microbiome and personal wellness. Potential rivals include Seattle-based Arivale as well as uBiome, Habit and DayTwo.
Jain’s fellow founder at BlueDot, Deepak Savadatti, serves as Viome’s president. The company’s other executives include chief science officer Momo Vuyisich, a veteran researcher from Los Alamos; chief medical officer Helen Messier, who previously worked at Human Longevity Inc.; and chief technology officer Guruduth Banavar, who helped create Watson AI technologies at IBM.