Handheld ultrasound developer Butterfly Network stretches wings to 35% annual sales growth

The handheld ultrasound developer Butterfly Network has taken big strides during its first year as a public company, but it’s got even larger plans for the year to come. 

After metamorphosizing from a private startup to an NYSE-traded company through a $1.5 billion SPAC deal in early 2021, Butterfly has seen its annual revenues increase by 35% compared to the full year of 2020.

With its portable, point-of-care ultrasound probes and subscription services, the company brought in $62.6 million versus the prior year’s $46.3 million. That revenue, along with a big, one-time injection from the SPAC deal, helped slash Butterfly’s 2021 net loss down to $32.4 million compared to 2020’s $162.7 million.

But at the same time the company’s operating expenses more than doubled, up to $209.8 million compared to $100.4 million, after it built out “personnel and services to support growth initiatives” and dealt with costs related to entering the public markets, Butterfly said in a statement.

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“We generated substantial growth in both human healthcare and veterinarian markets, including customer deployments, adoption by medical education institutions and global expansion through distributors and partnerships,” said President and CEO Todd Fruchterman, who joined Butterfly just before it went public last year. “At the same time, we also strengthened our people, began to evolve our business model and our approach to innovation.”

For 2022, Butterfly expects to see about the same rate of revenue growth, expanding by about 33% to 41% to between $83 million to $88 million. However, the company is also expecting that its net loss will balloon to between $225 million to $245 million as it looks to make its smartphone-powered ultrasound scanners as common in the clinic as stethoscopes.

That strategy will be backed up by $422.8 million in SPAC-boosted cash reserves, compared to the $60.2 million the company had on hand at the end of 2020. 

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Part of the evolution of its business model described by Fruchterman will rest on the launch of Butterfly Blueprint, an enterprise platform rolled out alongside the company’s earnings report.

Blueprint aims to help scale up the deployment of handheld ultrasound across hospitals including in multiple areas of care by integrating the probes into electronic health record systems and clinical workflows

It also ties in artificial intelligence-backed programs for guiding healthcare professionals through exams via Butterfly’s previous partnership with the AI developer Caption Health. The latter’s FDA-cleared software acts as a digital coach that helps clinicians obtain clear images of the heart for diagnosing a range of cardiac conditions. 

The Blueprint platform will include more than 20 presets for procedural guidance as well as device-agnostic software that will work with non-Butterfly devices, the company said. 

Earlier this month, Butterfly also partnered with Ambra Health, which was recently purchased by Intelerad, maker of healthcare imaging and analytics platforms. Their work will focus on allowing clinicians to quickly and securely share ultrasound results across a health system.