Pink Slips in Pittsburgh: CombineNet Sub-Optimizes Workforce Reduction

Perhaps a better name for CombineNet these days would be CombineRifs. Given the company's strong growth up until recent quarters, I was surprised to learn about a recent round of layoffs earlier in the month. According to a short blurb that I was able to dig out of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "CombineNet laid off an undisclosed number of employees ... A company spokesman said fewer than a dozen of the company's approximately 105 employees were affected." I've been able to do some digging beyond this story to discern what really transpired, and it would appear that growth in the core business did not meet expectations. I also learned that two executives, Tom Finn, who ran their joint venture with UPMC, CombineMed, and Paul Martyn, CombineNets former CMO, are among the 11 or so folks who have left the company.

Also, a number of the layoffs were in software development. This is a shame given that CombineNet was rumored to be headed down the path of developing productized solutions (possibly in collaboration with a large ERP provider). I suspect these products will now be delayed or cancelled. It's too bad that a vendor that was really on a roll up until recent quarters could not take its core sourcing business to the next level. I suppose that healthcare still offers up tremendous potential for CombineNet and its joint venture partners. However, replacing CombineMed's former top executive, Tom Finn, who was thought to be a solid executive by many of his peers, will be tough, given the challenge of finding someone of the same caliber who understands both optimization and healthcare. Still, I wish them luck, as the market needs the type of innovation that CombineNet fostered -- in healthcare and beyond.

Jason Busch

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