Jan 22, 201912:20 PMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
Catching up on some Wisconsin companies: Epic, Fiserv, and Exact Sciences
(page 1 of 2)
Thoughts on three Wisconsin tech titans in the news …
Jim Cramer, the perpetually energetic financial analyst for CNBC’s Mad Money, thinks it would be a natural for Apple to part with a chunk of its reported $123 billion in cash to buy Verona-based Epic Systems.
It makes a lot of sense for Apple, which has been venturing into the electronic health records space, to acquire a market leader such as Epic. Don’t bet your iPhone on it happening, however.
Epic founder and chief executive officer Judith Faulkner has been on record throughout the company’s 40-year history that she wants it to remain privately held. Those reasons range from a tradition of intense customer service for Epic’s hospital and health system clients to nurturing a corporate culture Faulkner believes is at the core of the company’s success.
Faulkner has created a charitable foundation to take over her shares in Epic when her time as CEO is finished. The estate gift to the Epic Heritage Foundation will comprise nearly every share of stock that Faulkner owns. As she told Modern Healthcare in 2015, the foundation will operate and fund nonprofit organizations in health care and other areas, while ensuring Epic remains a private company.
“My stock will go to the foundation," Faulkner told Modern Healthcare at the time. “The foundation will control the stock. This plan is designed to preserve the company as a private company forever.”
Cramer reasoned Apple should buy Epic because it has launched a service to allow iPhone users to access their medical records by linking to participating hospitals. Smartphone sales have dipped and, as Cramer said, Apple should portray itself to the market as “more than a hardware company.”
Convincing Epic and its founder to change a course that can be traced to the company’s humble roots on 2020 University Ave. in Madison will take a lot more than market chatter, however.
Imagined company acquisitions are one thing, but a real deal was announced Jan. 16 when leadership at Brookfield-based Fiserv said the company will acquire First Data Corp. for $22 billion later this year.
The combined firm, which will remain headquartered in Wisconsin, will represent a powerful financial technology and payments company. Fiserv provides “fintech” services for banks and credit unions; First Data is a major payment processing firm. The deal is believed to be the largest ever in that market space.
Fiserv CEO Jeffery Yabuki was reported as predicting the combined company will invest $500 million over five years in automated financial service technology, which can’t hurt young Wisconsin companies in that sector.