Eric Lefkofsky’s Tempus: The Unicorn Shaping Precision Medicine


Chicago startup Tempus is flourishing on the heels of an $80 million March investment. With a focus on revamping cancer care by pairing big data analytics with operating systems to put the information in the hands of clinicians, Eric Lefkofsky’s vision of using technology to personalize and optimize treatments is capturing enormous attention from technology, medicine and investment alike. After the announcement of their latest funding from a group of investors, the company’s total raise came to $210 million with a valuation around $1.1 billion, making Tempus Chicago’s newest “unicorn” company. Funding is being used to roll out new initiatives and add to the staff – a reported 400, with another 30+ being added each month.


When the term “unicorn” was coined in the early 2010s to describe tech startups that reach a $1 billion-dollar market valuation by investment, the firms to receive the title were almost as infrequent as the mythical creatures for which they were named. While the rarity of such ventures is becoming more commonplace – 22 new unicorns across the globe in 2018 – their missions remain vast. From marijuana retail (MedMen) to more players in the booming ride-share category (Caocao Zhuanche, Cabify) to food delivery (DoorDash), there’s no shortage of “ease and accessibility” companies making way to the 1B mark. But for Eric Lefkofsky, Tempus’ founder and CEO, the mission goes beyond ease, convenience or just technology. The funding and rapid rise of Tempus will grow to save lives around the world and change the way the healthcare industry treats patients. With its rapid growth, Tempus continues to expand its network of partners, working with leading academic medical centers, doctors, drug companies, cancer centers, hospital networks and community oncologists across the United States who are all searching for a way to use big data to more effectively treat cancer patients, now reportedly 1 in 4 of whom use Tempus’ technology.


Tempus’ most recent announcement outlined a new initiative that will “allow physicians to sequence a second patient sample without additional charge, removing a barrier that oftentimes stands in the way of a patient being sequenced.” With more physicians ordering genomic sequencing for their patients, costs can be a tremendous hurdle, but Tempus’ initiative could vastly improve results. By going beyond a single test result during treatment, the new rollout from Tempus – called “the path to modern precision medicine” by Tempus’ Chief Medical Officer, Gary Palmer – will gather a great deal more data for physicians to treat the current patient while laying the groundwork to provide valuable insights for the future.


“Our goal at Tempus is to improve patient outcomes,” says Lefkofsky. “One of the surest ways to do that is empowering researchers and physicians with data that can accelerate research and advance patient care.” The Tempus founder goes on to further describe the team’s vision for precision medicine: “bringing technology and real-world evidence to the point of care, improving the lives of patients battling disease.”


Lefkofsky and his team work around the notion that “static evaluation” and single testing cannot possibly account for the array of dynamic factors that affect a patient’s response to treatment. By opening up a second sequencing result, clinicians can better determine the targeted therapies or clinical trials that fit the needs of their patients. Notoriously diverse, chaotic and complex, cancer’s unpredictable nature requires a treatment to match. By adding to Tempus’ vast library of clinical and molecular data, second sequencing will be an effective step in curating a unique treatment for each patient based on the information extracted from the data. This approach to “precision medicine” is often and famously cited by Lefkofsky as the beginning of the most significant paradigm shift of our time.



About Tempus

Tempus, founded by Eric Lefkofsky in 2015, began with the CEO citing a family member’s battle with cancer as his inspiration. The company uses machine learning and genomic sequencing to better understand cancer, and aims to tailor custom treatment plans to attack. The company is building the world’s largest molecular clinical library of patient information along with the operating system to make the data useful for physicians and researchers to battle disease. The database is rapidly expanding, allowing physicians to learn from previous patients in the system and find treatment options that are most likely to be effective.


About Eric Lefkofsky

Lefkofsky is an American businessman and philanthropist living and working in Chicago. He is the founder and CEO of Tempus, a founding partner of venture fund Lightbank and co-founder of e-commerce marketplace Groupon, integrated media procurement technology firm Mediaocean, transportation and logistics outsourcing firm Echo Global Logistics and print solutions firm InnerWorkings. Lefkofsky is also a founding investor of Uptake Technologies, a predictive analytics platform merging big data with the world’s largest industries. He is the author of Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation, which discusses startup concepts and business development evolving in technological innovation.


About The Lefkofsky Family Foundation

The Lefkofsky Family Foundation is a private charitable foundation established in 2006 by Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, purposed with advancing high-impact initiatives that enhance the quality of human life in their community in terms of education, human rights, funding medical research and expanding cultural initiatives. Eric Lefkofsky’s philanthropic work also extends to the Children’s Hospital in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry and World Business Chicago. He also serves as the Board of Trustees’ Chairman of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.


For more information on Tempus, please visit

Twitter: @TempusLabs | Facebook: @TempusLabs


For more information on Eric Lefkofsky, please visit

LinkedIn: ericlefkofsky

Twitter: @lefkofsky | Facebook: @eplefkofsky


For more information on The Lefkofsky Foundation, please visit

Twitter: Liz Lefkofsky @lizlff – Eric Lefkofsky @Lefkofsky


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