Ro, one of the most valuable privately owned health tech startups, isn’t subtle about its mission to deliver vertically integrated, affordable healthcare with consumers in mind.
And while a patient-centric healthcare system is undoubtedly overdue, Ro is first dealing with a massive challenge: its own inability to monetize meaningfully outside of Roman, its erectile dysfunction vertical. Stagnating ARR, and Ro’s need to grow into its recently-landed $5 billion valuation, has created an environment for employees that paints a picture of a company struggling to find new avenues of growth and integrations of acquisitions.
TechCrunch spoke to ten current and former Ro employees on the condition of anonymity, due to fear of retaliation or of impact on future employment, about the work environment at Ro. These employees detailed a low-morale work environment, due in part to the way that leadership sets frantic strategy and refuses basic feedback. They say tensions have led to employee churn across all teams.
According to LinkedIn, there have been several departures across all departments over the past few months, including high-profile positions like head of data, head of partnerships and head of product management. Eight people out of Ro’s 11-person customer service operations team have quit due to culture, the majority leaving after only being at the company for five months, employees say.
After contacting Ro for comment, TechCrunch obtained a company-wide e-mail that Ro sent to staff about this article, saying that it “aims to paint Ro in a negative light.” The email prompted more staff to reach out to TechCrunch, also on condition of anonymity, to confirm their experience of Ro’s troubling environment.
“Every time I’m stressed out about work, I come back to the same realization: we’re selling dick pills, we’re not curing cancer, we’re not becoming a patient’s first call,” a current employee told TechCrunch. “[Erectile dysfunction] is where we make all our money.”
‘Everything was going towards Roman’
Ro started out by selling erectile dysfunction medication to men. Founder Zachariah Reitano, who goes by Z, launched the company after firsthand dealing with the broken and stigmatized ED patient experience. Four years later, Reitano, along with co-founders Saman Rahmanian and Robert Schutz, have grown the company’s ambitions rapidly.
Over the years, Ro has launched a number of different services, including Rory, a digital health clinic for women; Zero, a smoking cessation treatment service; Ro Pharmacy, which offers low …….