June 2, 2011
San Francisco Business Times
Chris Rauber

Posit Science, the San Francisco-based maker of brain training software, has named research scientist Henry Mahncke as its new CEO. Mahncke’s promotion took place in late March, but was disclosed Thursday.

He replaces Steven Aldrich, who left the company after two years at the helm “to pursue other interests.”

Mahncke had been vice president of research and outcomes since joining the startup in 2003, and headed research that led to its Brain Fitness and Insight programs, which target brain fitness/memory and visual attention, respectively.

Posit Science also markets DriveSharp, another brain fitness program that focuses on improving driving skills.

Previously, Mahncke managed R&D and organizational strategies at consultant McKinsey & Co., and was a science and technology consultant to the British government.

The company is undergoing a restructuring and revamping to reflect a disconnect between cost and revenue. It has shrunk consistently over the last four years, from 86 staffers in 2007 to 65 in 2009 to just 11 currently.

Posit Science told the San Francisco Business Times in July 2009 it garnered between $10 million and $20 million in revenue the prior year, but Mahncke declined to say anything about more recent revenue numbers, except to say the company is now “cash flow positive.”

Founded in 2003, Posit Science has nabbed roughly $36 million in venture and other funding, including “less than $1 million from earlier investors” early this year to help fund the restructuring program.

Earlier in its lifespan Posit Science “built out the technology,” Mahncke told the Business Times on June 2. Now, its mission is “how do we run this as a sustainable business.”

Customers/funding sources have included Allstate Insurance in Pennsylvania; The Hartford; UPMC Health Plan, also in the Keystone State, and Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative, along with government agencies such as the Department of Defense, which has tested its software with veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries, and the National Institues of Health, Mahncke said. He expects to announce other insurance company customers “within the next month or two.”

Big picture, Mahncke said, the opportunity for brain fitness software is huge, but targeting products to the right customers with the right features at the right price has been a challenge.

To date, Posit Science has been a “we built it and they haven’t come” kind of company, Mahncke acknowledged, but he aims to change that paradigm.