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BOLD TYPES

Athenahealth CEO looks to take Watertown health IT company public, for a second time

Micho Spring bids farewell to Weber Shandwick; Year Up expands with gift from Blackstone; Symbotic dials up their old CEO; What’s in a name for Allen & Gerritsen?

Bob Segert, CEO of athenahealth.Chris Morris

Athenahealth has been privately owned for about four years, with its newest owners taking over only 10 months ago. But chief executive Bob Segert is already preparing it to go public again.

“We have to build an amazing company,” Segert said in an interview at the health IT firm’s Watertown headquarters. “When you think about athena, it was a great public company and it lost its way a little bit. We’ve transformed that, created a ton of value. It’s ready to go public again, if we so choose that path.”

Going public could provide a nice return for Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman after the private equity firms led a $17 billion deal to acquire athenahealth. Presumably, they would wait until they can fetch a better value in the stock market — assuming another offer doesn’t come along that’s too good to pass up.

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Segert first arrived around the time athenahealth was sold and taken private by different investors in early 2019. Segert’s predecessor, cofounder Jonathan Bush, had resisted a sale to Evergreen Coast Capital, the private equity arm of Elliott Investment Management. But Elliott was ultimately successful after pressuring Bush to leave and reaching a deal to partner with Veritas Capital to acquire the company for $5.7 billion, by merging it with a Veritas-backed firm Segert led at the time. Through that merger, Segert became chief executive of athenahealth. Bain and Hellman & Friedman kept Segert in charge when they took over in February.

“We think very highly of Bob,” said Dave Humphrey, a managing director at Boston-based Bain. “He brings a lot of leadership and technology experience to helping athena continue to innovate and grow in a complex health care market.”

Under Segert’s watch, athenahealth sold its headquarters campus for $526 million to lab developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Segert also scaled back athenahealth’s nascent hospital business, focusing instead on investing in the core business: software and services, such as bookings management, for medical practices. Segert says athenahealth employs about 6,500 people globally, slightly more than in 2018, with about 1,500 in Greater Boston. Segert, who lived in Texas at the time of the sale and still has a place there, said he primarily works out of the Watertown office when he’s not on the road.

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Segert said athenahealth has added more than 2,000 practices to its client lists this year, and a similar number in each of the past two years, with very little customer attrition. He declined to disclose its annual revenue, other than to say it’s in the billions.

Athenahealth first went public in 2007. So when can we expect the second IPO?

Segert remains coy: “If we could predict the future, I’d be doing something different. My goal has always been to take the long view and build an amazing business.”

Micho Spring is moving on

Weber Shandwick executive Micho Spring is stepping down after 30 years. Just don’t say she’s retiring.

The Interpublic Group subsidiary announced that Spring, its chief reputation officer, would step down at the end of the year. Weber Shandwick credits Spring with making the Boston office one of the dominant PR operations in New England. She had already exited the role of New England president earlier this year, and was not replaced in that position.

Spring joined the firm through what was then called Sawyer Miller Group; she had previously worked with Sawyer Miller when it was a campaign consultant for former mayor Kevin White. (Spring was a top aide in White’s administration, including as deputy mayor.)

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Spring said she expects to focus on consulting, board work, and other civic activities, and will continue to help Weber Shandwick on a consulting basis. Among her many high-profile roles in recent years: chairing the board of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and serving on Mayor Michelle Wu’s transition team last winter.

“Micho has been an impact player in Boston,” chamber chief executive Jim Rooney said in an e-mail. “I suspect there is another chapter in Micho’s career, and I suspect that’s a hope shared by many.”

Nidhi Khare, associate director of programs for Year Up, a nonprofit job-training program, takes questions at Dallas College, Sept. 14, 2022. NATHAN HUNSINGER/NYT

Year Up is branching out

Year Up is ready to ramp up its Career Accelerator program, thanks in part to a $3 million donation from private equity giant Blackstone.

The Boston nonprofit offers job training and internships for students to enter the professional workforce. Through the Career Accelerator program, Year Up provides curricula and other support to community colleges and other intermediaries that work with students, enabling Year Up to reach a bigger audience.

Career Accelerator pilots have been launched in Los Angeles, Boston, Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas metro areas, with Austin, Texas, opening next month, and Detroit and New York expected next year.

“It means we don’t have to do all the training ourselves,” said Gerald Chertavian, chief executive of Year Up. “We can sit between the company who has the need and does the hiring and the community of folks that do the training. . . . If we want to have a systemic impact, we can’t be serving [just] 4,000 young adults a year. It’s got to be exponentially larger. Thankfully, Blackstone’s belief in that, their strategic partnership and insight, helped us take it to the next level.”

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Back to the old boss at Symbotic

Well, that didn’t last long.

In the spring, Wilmington robotics company Symbotic hired Michael Loparco, formerly with manufacturer Jabil, to be its chief executive. Longtime chief executive Rick Cohen remained chairman, to focus on product development and customer engagement. But last week, Loparco was leaving, and Cohen was chief executive again.

Cohen told analysts on an earnings call that suppliers and customers wanted a single point of contact. It was too soon to separate the scaling up of manufacturing from product development.

“At some point it will happen, but this was just not the right time,” said Cohen, who is also executive chairman of C&S Wholesale Grocers.

Cohen described it as an agreeable change. That was no doubt helped by the fact Symbotic agreed to a package for Loparco that included $1.05 million in severance payments, a $700,000 cash incentive, $200,000 in advisory fees through January, and $30,000 for housing near the Wilmington headquarters.

Andrew Graff of Allen & Gerritsen pictured on Jan. 29, 2015. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Allen & Gerritsen faces life after Allen and Gerritsen

What will ad agency Allen & Gerritsen be without either of its namesake founders around? Chief executive Andrew Graff is about to find out.

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Peter Gerritsen left two decades ago, but Paul Allen stayed on board with Graff. Allen has spent much of his time with A&G’s consulting practice, Primal.

Now, Allen and Primal are moving on. Graff said he has bought out Allen’s stake in the firm, and Primal is being spun out. (Allen’s departure was first reported by Adweek.) Meanwhile, A&G is preparing to move from the Seaport to the Financial District next spring; Graff said A&G is leasing 20,000 square feet at 125 High Street, roughly two-thirds the size of the space A&G occupies today.

About 130 people work for A&G, most of them in Boston. The firm maintains a hybrid structure so they’re typically not all in the office at the same time. Graff jokes with them about coming into the office to be less productive — but there’s an element of truth to that. They should be coming in to interact with colleagues, not just to bury their head in their computers all day.

A&G remains one of Boston’s biggest independent ad agencies, if not the biggest, and Graff has no intention of selling.

“We’re attracting folks who love that entrepreneurial spirit,” Graff said. “There’s no real need to sell. There’s a greater need to grow . . . We’re just getting warmed up.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.