Cue Health, a little-known tech startup used by Google for at-home Covid-19 testing, is now a $3 billion company traded on Nasdaq
Cue Health is a little-known San Diego-based tech startup that most people may not be familiar with even though the company has been in business for eleven years. For over a decade, Cue has been developing and manufacturing professional and consumer medical diagnostic products that can be used in clinical or at-home settings.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Cue Health had only a tiny amount of revenue. The startup spent the better part of a decade as a diagnostic testing company in research mode. Everything changed in February 2020 when the pandemic hit the United States.
With millions of people not sure if they had the deadly virus, there was a sudden need for instant covid-19 testing. And Cue Health was in the right place and at the right time. The company was more than prepared to meet the challenge and quickly repurposed some of its existing products for covid testing. Soon after scientists and researchers decoded Covid-19 with the SARS-CoV-2 genome, Cue developed its first covid test kit.
On June 10, 2020, Cue received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration for use of the Cue Covid-19 Test Cartridge with the Cue Health Monitoring System to detect nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2. Although Cue has sold millions of covid test kits, the company is still operating under emergency use authorization as the products have not been fully FDA cleared or approved.
Cue Health’s covid test kit includes a wand, test cartridge, and battery-operated reusable reader. Users are able to take a nasal swab with the wand and insert it in the small box, where a reader feeds results to a smartphone app within about 20 minutes. Cue Health’s covid-test app eliminates the need for processing at a lab.
The success of Cue’s covid-19 testing started to spread. The company struck a deal with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide rapid tests to the federal government. Then in April, search giant Google started sending at-home Covid-19 tests to its U.S. employees. Google quickly became Cue’s biggest private-sector customer. Today, Cue’s covid-19 test is used by a wide array of big companies, institutions, and government agencies including the Mayo Clinic, the Pentagon, and even the Iditarod race in Alaska.
Yesterday, the company finally made its debut on Wall Street. Its shares trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “HLTH.” On the first day of opening, Cue’stock climbed 25% to $20 at the close, valuing the 11-year old startup at $2.9 billion.
“We’ve been really working hard through the pandemic,” Cue Health CEO Ayub Khattak said in an interview with CNBC on Friday after the IPO. The team “showed great determination to scale in the midst of the pandemic, which was quite a challenge.”
Cue was founded in 2010 by Ayub Khattak (CEO) and Clint Sever (Chief Product Officer). Khattak, a mathematics major, and Sever met more than a decade ago when Sever moved into the house next door in Los Angeles. They both worked together in a biochemistry lab during undergrad at UCLA and Sever, who studied retail and consumer science at the University of Arizona. Since its inception 11 years ago, Cue has raised a total of about $1 billion in funding over 11 rounds. Its latest funding was raised on May 13, 2021, from a Private Equity round.