The diabetes data world is evolving rapidly, and the latest news is that legacy glucose meter company Roche Diabetes Care has acquired the young Austria-based startup mySugr, with plans to use their tech as the core of a still-in-development digital platform.

Both mySugr and Roche issued official news releases late last week with their takes on this announcement.

But don't worry, mySugr fans: This doesn't mean any changes are slated for the popular data tracking and mobile coaching app that's been around since 2012. The two entities remain legally separate, though Roche can now claim mySugr as one of its three "open" data platforms -- along with its own Accu-Chek Connect platform, the Emminens eConect platform overseas, and now mySugr.

mySugr has become a true D-Data power-player over the past five years -- one with a fun "tame your monster" tagline that encourages a refreshing, not-so-typical attitude about logging D-data and tracking trends. As I've written in the past, I personally find that the mySugr app actually makes me want to manage my data a bit better, and clearly I'm not alone; just this May it was announced that mySugr had surpassed the 1 millionth user mark!

For Roche's part, the company says it's No. 1 in digital diabetes management (?) and has its sights on turning all of this into its own "open digital diabetes platform" at some point down the road. This could be the newest turnaround attempt for Roche, the Switzerland-based company that was rumored to be trying to get out of the diabetes business in years past and has struggled to bring innovative products to market in the U.S. -- not to mention the recent news that they pulled their Accu-Chek insulin pump from the U.S. market at the start of 2017.

We shall see what this mySugr data acquisition may mean, in a time when data is the name of the game.

This comes on top of other recent #DData developments including the news that Glooko got an infusion of $35 million, with new investors and board members supporting Medtronic and Insulet, and the announcement by open-data non-profit Tidepool that they're creating a data donation projection aimed at sharing patient data streams with researchers and innovators in the field.

On the Roche-mySugr news specifically, we reached out to friend Scott Johnson, a longtime type 1 who's been the Communications Lead at mySugr since 2013. Here's what Scott tells us:

 

Q&A on the mySugr-Roche Deal

DM) First off, congrats! The folks at the small patient-driven startup mySugr must be very excited and proud...

Scott JohnsonSJ): Yes, mySugr has always been about impacting the lives of many and changing the philosophy of diabetes. That's what's needed. We’ve proven that what we’re doing works, we’ve carried the risks through the years, and now we feel ready to go to the next level. With the power of Roche Diabetes Care behind us, we'll be able to have a massive impact on a scale we couldn’t do before.

But Roche does seem like a bit of an old-school company...?

 Roche is changing. This is not something many know, but Roche is rapidly changing its philosophy, culture and methods – from focusing on pushing strips to pushing outcomes, to helping shape an ecosystem of services which fit the right person at the right time, in the right way. This is big. The company Roche, founded in 1896 (!!), has had to adapt to the new world quite a few times – and every time, it has been through huge innovations. This time around it's about patient centricity, digitalization, massive heaps of data and a change from silos to ecosystems. And they want mySugr to drive that change. It'll be super interesting to be part of this re-creation.

So this isn't a "merger" in which Roche will take over the name and slap its branding on everything?

I think some background on the type of deal might be helpful. In general, there are two types of deals:

Asset Deals (this didn’t happen): These usually mean that everything gets integrated into the company of the new owner and the old company ceases to exist. Maybe the brands and/or products will be continued. Sometimes it's just the technology and the people that remain.

Share Deals (this happened): The acquired company (mySugr) stays as it is. Just the shareholders change. Instead of investors it’s one shareholder now. All contracts and terms remain intact. As mentioned in the press release, mySugr remains a separate legal entity.

To clarify, in what ways will mySugr become part of Roche?

Roche is now the exclusive shareholder of mySugr. However, mySugr remains a separate legal entity and will continue to be everything that users have come to know and love. We won’t have to spend as much energy figuring out where our next funding round will come from, which means we’ll be able to focus 100% on providing incredible products, solutions, and experiences for people with diabetes.

Roche brings tremendous longevity and stability while also offering an exciting opportunity to help create their new digital diabetes culture. It’s an exciting new chapter for both companies!

How exactly wil mySugr remain independent?

The offices in Vienna and San Diego will remain our working locations. All employees will be kept and new ones will be hired. The mySugr “way of doing things” (agile, friendly, user-centric) will continue, because that is our DNA. The mySugr brand will not be touched. On the contrary, mySugr is now the core of Roche’s new open digital diabetes strategy.

Roche is extremely open and curious about us and the way we do things. And Roche has already started to pave new paths by opening their innovation hub in Barcelona. We are thought leaders in the space and now we’re sitting in the cockpit of a really big ship.

Will Roche really support an "open platform" here, with mySugr connecting to devices that compete with their products?

Yes, we will continue to integrate with many different devices that are relevant to people with diabetes. We’re working to add more devices and services all the time. Our mission is to make life easier for patients and that includes integrating many devices from many different companies, even when they are direct competitors of Roche.

For current mySugr subscribers, does anything at all change?

No. Just that everyone can expect more great product development and exciting enhancements.

Roche has unfortunately had a series of layoffs. Any concern about that?

I can't comment on that. You'd have to contact Roche's communications team.

{Editor's Note: the Roche team responded with assurances that all mySugr jobs are secure.}

With all the focus on Big Data these days -- and more sharing of data with insurers -- many folks are more concerned than ever about data privacy...

We will never share data with third parties without the consent of our users. Nothing changes about our views on data security now.

 

Thanks for the detailed responses, Scott. We're sending big congrats to both mySugr and Roche, and are looking forward to seeing what materializes from this partnership.


Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.