Frederic Moll has to be one of the most successful inventors and entrepreneurs who is not yet a household name.
Moll’s successes include the 22-year-old, publicly traded Intuitive Surgical, a robotic surgical systems manufacturer now worth around $61.4 billion, and Hansen Medical, a company that developed tools to manipulate catheters.
Most recently, the serial medical device entrepreneur sold Auris, a manufacturer of advanced surgical robots that was sold earlier this year to Johnson & Johnson in a $3.4 billion deal that also holds the possibility of an additional $2.35 billion in payouts.
More significant than the money, though, are the changes that technologies like Auris presage for the medical profession.
“With Auris, we realized there aren’t going to be enough surgeons to address the needs of the additional 5 billion people who are going to be on earth, and everyone deserves equally good healthcare, and you’ve got to find a way to deliver that with technology. So, what is the equivalent of cell phones for surgery?” said Ajay Royan, the co-founder of Mithril Capital and an investor in the company, in an interview with Fortune earlier this year. “It sounds crazy, but what is the iPhone of surgery, where you can deliver an insanely sophisticated platform but be able to operate it in a very intuitive and simple fashion? That was the thesis behind Auris; it was not an instrument that we were funding, we were funding a platform and a way of training people in surgery.”
Royan, who co-founded Mithril Capital with Peter Thiel back in 2014, saw in Auris a startup that epitomized his firm’s approach to investments. It led Mithril to back the company and paved the way for what looks like a $700 million windfall for the fund.
Mithril closed its second fund with $850 million roughly two years ago and has been methodically investing in a wide range of companies that include the intelligence data mining company Palantir, along with big swings in robotics companies around the world.
Expect to hear updates on investment in robotics, disruptions in the medical device world and much, much more at Disrupt SF in October when these two titans take the stage.
Disrupt SF runs October 2 – October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here.
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