Afton Vechery, the co-founder of Modern Fertility, is quitting healthcare unicorn Ro less than a year after her firm, which she co-founded with Carly Leahy, was sold for more than $225 million. Vechery is quitting her post as president of women’s health at Modern Fertility, according to an internal e-mail acquired by TechCrunch from Ro’s executive team. She will join Ro’s fertility services as an advisor on May 18.
“While this is disappointing news, fertility and women’s health remain major growth prospects and areas in which we will continue to spend aggressively,” read the email to Ro’s team. Hannah Ma, the general manager of Ro, will now be the general manager of fertility and women’s health, according to the report.
Vechery also issued an e-mail to the company’s employees, stating that her leaving “may be a surprise” to them. “I am and always will be an entrepreneur at heart,” Vechery said in the message, “and this is how I can personally be the most successful in improving global women’s health, an area in which I am extremely interested.”
“Taking a moment to reflect,” she wrote in an e-mail, “I recall when we first started Modern Fertility, we had no idea how the market and consumers would react.” “How could we make something as complex and forbidden as fertility simple to understand, and even something that women actively sought to understand?” But we did, and it not only struck a chord, but it also gave birth to a whole new category.” “Joining Ro was the finest thing for Modern Fertility,” she added, adding that “the future you have ahead of you is very wonderful.”
On the record, Modern Fertility refuses to comment. Given how mergers sometimes prompt former executives previously bitten by the entrepreneurial bug to attempt their next thing, the co-departure founder’s so soon after purchase is not unheard of. In Ro’s situation, however, the digital health business has lately lost several leaders from various divisions, most recently Ro COO George Koveos and GM of Ro Pharmacy Steve Buck.
Vechery’s resignation has been reported for over six months, spurred by a high-profile personnel exodus last year. Former and present workers noted at the time that Ro’s purchase of Modern Fertility, a reproductive health startup, felt more like an acquisition “for optics” than for meaningful change, given that Rory, Ro’s prior vertical for women’s healthcare, had received little to no funding. Rachel Blank, Rory’s leader, departed to create her firm specialising in women’s hormonal health. The Modern Fertility purchase finally revitalised the women’s health practice, but given the pattern, former and present staff were concerned that Modern Fertility would similarly experience attrition.
In the same e-mail announcing Vechery’s retirement, leadership stated that for the balance of Q2 and H2, they will devote “more focus and resources to fewer initiatives.” “Sharpening our emphasis does not imply that we will introduce fewer items or services for patients.” We believe it will have the opposite impact. “We will accelerate the pace of innovation for patients,” the message says, adding that “new products for current patients” will be developed.