Digital voice biomarker company Sonde Health taps new CEO

Sonde Health has brought on a new CEO as it looks to expand and commercialize its digital, voice-based biomarker program across different health conditions and platforms.

David Liu will serve as the company’s chief as well as a member of its board of directors. He joins about six months after Sonde raised $16 million in a series A round led by the corporate investment arm of Merck KGaA, M Ventures. 

Additional backers included Mitsubishi Tanabe’s venture capital firm, MP Healthcare Venture Management, as well as Neoteny 4, LP, Canepa Healthcare and Sonde’s founding company, PureTech Health. The round’s total also included the issuance of $6 million in shares, following the conversion of debt into equity.

Sonde’s technology aims to leverage a range of consumer devices—including smartphones, voice-enabled smart speakers and telemedicine programs—to help screen users for potential conditions using acoustic analysis such as respiratory diseases, depression and chronic diseases related to aging.

“A new wave of technology powered by voice is upon us, and its application in healthcare has already begun to streamline functional tasks such as researching providers, scheduling appointments, and updating medical records,” Liu said in a statement. “Sonde is at the forefront of taking voice technology beyond those tasks to potentially improve people’s health outcomes by analyzing vocal biomarkers combined with machine learning.”

David Liu (Sonde)

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Liu brings experience from both the consumer digital and healthcare spaces. Most recently, he was president and chief operating officer at Quartet, which aims to connect primary care doctors with mental health professionals. Liu has also recently served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Weill Cornell Medicine, focusing on product development and digital healthcare.

Prior to that, he was president and chief operating officer of Knewton, a digital child education company. He began his career with a decade at America Online.

“One of the oldest tools in our health care arsenal, the thermometer, is arguably still one of the most valuable because of its simplicity and widespread availability outside the clinical setting,” said Sonde co-founder and COO Jim Harper.

“Our longstanding vision has been to harness the health information present in billions of daily voice interactions to create a 21st century thermometer, or ‘vocometer,’ that provides broad digital healthcare decision support needed to enable new models of precision and preventative medicine,” Harper said. To date, Sonde says it has collected a digital repository of voice samples and health metadata from more than 20,000 individuals to help validate its platform.