From the Corner Office to the Caring Center
Jonathan Schwartz’s Journey From Sun Microsystems to CareZone
by Jonathan Schwartz, Founder & CEO CareZone
I’ve spent roughly 25 years listening and responding to the technology needs of large institutions. It’s a great business, in which eventually I rose to be CEO of a great, Fortune 250 Company, Sun Microsystems. But the interaction between large technology companies and big enterprise customers kept me mostly at arms length from the power that technology has brought to individuals. The ability to make your own decisions, have your voice heard, act in unison or share your interests, thoughts and activities has changed the world in the last decade.
After leaving Sun Microsystems in early 2010, I decided where I wanted to focus—serving individuals, and creating products that simplify and enhance their lives. The ideas behind CareZone were borne of personal experience. As happens with everyone, my parents got to the point where I could start returning the favor of being cared for as a child. My brother and I were a few thousand miles away from one another, and from our parents—technology helped, but didn’t really solve the kinds of problems we faced, of getting and staying organized and coordinated. At the same time, my immediate family was having its own challenges, and my wife and I saw the gaps in our own approach.
Most families I know use a binder and desk drawers to keep private family information organized. We keep our social lives and professional connections well maintained on-line, but private, often far more important information related to our loved ones somehow takes a back seat. And it can quickly get out of hand. The sheer volume of material can be unwieldy, and a binder or notebook isn’t readily shareable with people who are concerned, involved or physically remote. Caring for a loved one is hard enough without the extra effort of trying to keep a helper, therapist, sibling or parent (much less a nurse, or a doctor) on the same page.
What I thought was needed was something that utilized the productivity and convenience of social networks without their biggest flaw: their business model, predicated on selling access to you and your information to advertisers. I don’t mind sharing my alma mater, my coffee preferences or engaging the twitterverse now and then, but information related to my children or family needs to be private.
That’s the basis for CareZone, a safe place for families to care and coordinate. If you’re caring for someone in need, you’ve likely faced the same challenges we’ve all faced – a desire to use modern Internet tools to stay organized and coordinated, with a lingering concern around where that information goes, who sees it and how it might be used in the future. At CareZone, we address these concerns up front.
CareZone is a business predicated upon privacy: we are funded by families, not by advertisers, which means you won’t see ads, and you’ll always know our highest priority is to protect your information, not sell it. Unlike a social media site, you are not our product. You are our customer.
CareZone is built on the assumption you’re caring for a child or spouse or parent, on whose behalf you might keep a journal, organize documents, manage information, or track medicines. We all know that caring for someone creates an endless stream of information: CareZone helps you keep that information organized, accessible and safe. It puts you in control, no matter where you are.
CareZone’s default privacy setting is simple: only you can see what’s in your account. No one else. If you want to extend access to others, like your spouse, extended family, or an emergency response team, you make (and can revoke) that decision explicitly. If you choose to share your account with your husband, wife or brother-in-law, you’ll have access to the same information, emergency contacts or reference documents. Families can share journals or documents, medication lists with a new helper. A babysitter can have easy access to care instructions or an emergency contact list. Your Dad can have a safe place to share his accounts, passwords or last wishes.
So far, CareZone has been great. We launched on Valentine’s Day of this year. We’re growing users and expanding our offering nearly everywhere on earth. Most importantly, we’re touching people directly and making a difference in how they care for their loved ones.
It’s not as though I didn’t enjoy spending time with CIO’s and technologists all over the world. But none of them ever said to me what I now hear almost daily from our users: “You make a huge difference to my family.” It’s a whole different kind of gratifying.
Jonathan Schwartz is the Founder and CEO of CareZone. He had been President and CEO at Sun Microsystems prior to its acquisition by Oracle. He was also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lighthouse Design, Ltd., a software company focused on Apple’s NeXTSTEP platform, ultimately acquired by Sun. He submitted his resignation from Sun using a Haiku on Twitter.. Schwa rtz is a graduate of Wesleyan University.