Three guys started some of the first diabetes websites at the dawn of the Internet age in 1995. My site, Mendosa.com, came first. But quite soon Dr. Bill Quick started his site, DiabetesMonitor.com, and Jeff Hitchcock started ChildrenWithDiabetes.com.
We always worked together rather than competed, since we three came to the diabetes party from complementary directions. I came as a journalist who had diabetes. Bill came as an endocrinologist, who only later developed diabetes; he mirrors many of my articles on his site and now also writes here. And Jeff came as the father of a young child, Marissa, who got diabetes when she was 24 months old; for years I have been an "occasional expert" member of his "Diabetes Team." All three sites are still going strong today.
Jeff's site, in fact, has become second only to the American Diabetes Association's site in terms of how much information it has and how many visitors it gets. It's the only website that I know of that publishes extensive visitor statistics.
And today it made a big leap forward.
The shareholders of Children with Diabetes' parent company, Diabetes123.com Inc., have agreed to merge with the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, one of which is LifeScan, a leading makers of blood glucose monitoring systems. Jeff tells me that he now reports to Dr. Ken Moritsugu, who runs the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute.
The merger agreement gives these shareholders the right to a proportionate share of the approximately $8.7 million purchase price. Jeff hasn't told me how much of it goes to him. But he tells, "There were many shareholders, and my shares were much less than you might think." The agreement does call for him to get an additional $800,000 to secure his continued services with the company.
I was one of the shareholders. Years ago Jeff and the board of directors awarded me 2,000 shares. I had never asked for the shares and in fact never expected them to have any market value, so the merger came as a pleasant surprise to me personally. So I also agreed to the merger of Children with Diabetes into J&J and look forward to a nice check.
If anyone deserves to profit from developing a wonderful website, it is Jeff. Having worked with him for more than a dozen years, I know first-hand how much time and energy and love he put into building Children with Diabetes into what it has become today.
Jeff came close to losing his house during the site's start-up years, as I wrote in my first article about him. That article came out 11 years ago on the website of the American Diabetes Association and is now online at my site.
Most recently I wrote here about "Children with Diabetes at Disney World," which I was able to participate in last summer for the first time. This 5-day gathering of 2,500 children with diabetes and their parents, called the "Friends for Life Conference and Expo," is a huge annual offshoot of the website.
When Jeff called to tell me about the merger of Children with Diabetes into the J&J family of companies I had only two concerns. The first was which company was taking over the site and the second was whether Jeff would continue to run it.
"Maintaining our charter as an independent voice for the diabetes community, Children with Diabetes will continue to provide state-of-the-art, science-based education and support," Jeff says. "As always, the community will be able to participate in our chat rooms, forums, online polls, surveys and conferences."
The positive answers to those questions means that the merger is almost certainly a good thing. It also means that the site will have a lot more resources to help even more children with diabetes.