The Staff of Asclepius, the symbol of medicine, on a Bitcoin coin.

After a long time, it’s that time again: A company that did not originate from the crypto industry is converting its capital reserves to Bitcoin and investing a considerable sum in a highly publicized way. But what kind of company is Semler Scientific – and what are its motives?

Since software company MicroStrategy began making Bitcoin the primary store of value for its capital reserves, the scene has been waiting eagerly to see who follows.

A mammoth corporation, Tesla, quickly followed suit. But after that, things remained relatively quiet. Some small, less significant companies bought Bitcoins, most of them only on a small scale, more as a symbolic gesture than as a strategy, and only a few went public with it. Therefore, relatively little happened, except that MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor promoted Bitcoin with great obsession and bought more and more coins for the company.

Now, with Semler Scientific, we have another fairly relevant company that is investing in Bitcoin to a remarkable extent. The medical device manufacturer basically only has one product, the QuantoFlo PAD: a measuring device that supposedly measures blood circulation in the extremities with high precision. This allows arterial diseases such as peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD) to be detected at an early stage.

It should be noted that peripheral arterial disease is an underdiagnosed consequence of arteriosclerosis. In the harmless case, it causes leg pain, the well-known “window shopper’s legs”, in the worst case it leads to necrotic smoker’s leg, which can only be amputated in the final stages. Hundreds of millions of people are affected worldwide, around 4.5 million in Germany alone. Since early diagnoses save limbs, Semler has a product that is in international demand and generates stable income relatively easily.

Similar to MicroStrategy, Semler is faced with the luxury problem of having nice cash reserves but few ideas about what to do with them. The board and management have spent “a substantial amount of time” looking for sensible investments, including acquisitions of other companies – without finding anything really attractive: “After studying various alternatives, we decided that holding Bitcoin is the best use for our excess money,” says Chairman of the Board Eric Semler. So Semler bought 581 Bitcoins for a total of $40 million and made Bitcoin the primary asset of his capital reserves.

Semler is convinced “that Bitcoin is a reliable store of value and a compelling investment.” He believes Bitcoin is a “reasonable protection against inflation and a safe haven in times of global instability” that also has more potential for profits than gold. The decisive factor for this conviction was apparently the ETFs that were approved at the beginning of the year. These showed “the growing global acceptance and institutionalization of Bitcoin.”

Unlike MicroStrategy, where business beyond Bitcoin has largely taken a back seat, Semler’s focus, says CEO Doug Murphy-Chutorian, will remain on serving customers and remaining a growing and profitable healthcare company. The company will continue to strive to strengthen QuantoFlo sales.

But this doesn’t sound particularly exciting. Semler sold its first device in 2011; in 2018 it celebrated one million tests with QuantoFlo. Since then, not much has happened. The company is introducing some digital products, such as SemlerAnalytics, which are intended to make the device more usable for clinics and doctors, but overall it remains a one-product company with a few dominant major customers who account for the majority of sales.

This situation is also reflected in the share price, which is somewhat reminiscent of the price of a typical shitcoin. The share went live in 2014 at around $5, stagnated until 2017 and rose decisively from then on to reach an all-time high of around $150 at the end of 2021. After that, it went down again, to just under $30.

Semler share price since 2014 according to TradingView

The sometimes severe declines, most recently in January by around 30 percent, caused confusion among some analysts. The cash flow is good, the company was able to significantly increase sales and profits last year and thus accumulated cash reserves. Investors probably had no reason to hope for an increase, as Semler shows little ambition to develop new devices, for example.

The decision to invest in Bitcoin was a liberating move for some. The price jumped by a nice 40 percent in just a few days, which is the best increase in a long time. But in the big picture, it remains barely visible, the stock has not even reached the value it was at the beginning of 2024 and is still down around 70 percent compared to the peak in 2021.

The Semler share price for the last 5 days, also according to TradingView.

Comparing the price to that of shitcoins might not be such a bad thing. With a market cap of around $150 million, 581 Bitcoin represents a significant portion of the company’s assets, which inevitably makes the price dependent on Bitcoin, not much different than a shitcoin rising with Bitcoin and, to an even greater extent, falling. One could speculate whether companies tying their luck and misfortune to Bitcoin are forming a new type of altcoin.

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