Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2008 (Revised June 2013)

Odyssey Healthcare

by Robert F. Higgins, Virginia Fuller and Umer Raffat


In January 2001, Dick Burnham, CEO of Odyssey Healthcare, and Odyssey's Board of Directors were considering selling the hospice care company to a larger provider or making an initial public offering (IPO). With 38 hospice locations in 21 states, Odyssey had been providing care to the terminally ill since its first location opened in 1996. Since then, the company had grown rapidly through a series of acquisitions, development of new hospice locations, and organic growth. Odyssey had just realized its first profitable year in 2000—recording a net income of $3.1 million—and was still a relatively young company. In addition, the hospice industry was subject to extensive federal, state, and local regulations relating to payment for hospice services and conduct of operations. Burnham was unsure how the market would react to a company with such government-dependent revenue streams. Additionally, the recent collapse of the "dot-com" boom in 2000 might make it impossible to float an IPO at all given the prevailing market conditions. On a positive note, however, healthcare companies were commonly thought to be recession proof and thus might be a sound investment in the event of a down-turning economy. Burnham had to decide if this was the right time for an exit, and if so, what the best exit would be.

Keywords: liquidity; venture creation/development; venture capital; hospice; Venture Capital; Financial Liquidity; Business Exit or Shutdown; Business Growth and Maturation; Business Plan; Entrepreneurship; Health Industry; United States;


Higgins, Robert F., Virginia Fuller, and Umer Raffat. "Odyssey Healthcare." Harvard Business School Case 809-052, September 2008. (Revised June 2013.)