Rant: The Rise of DaVita

This week, the occasionally controversial kidney dialysis company DaVita announced that Warren Buffett had again increased his ownership stake in the business, a percentage that has doubled to about 12 percent this year. Given that an endorsement from America’s favorite billionaire carries at least as much weight in the investment world as one from Oprah carries in just about every other corner of the world, DaVita’s brass and shareholders must be delighted. And why not? The company’s stock price has risen more than 14 percent in the past few months—and more than 50 percent in the past year—despite recent warnings from CEO and “Mayor of DaVita Village” Kent Thiry (pictured above) about financial “headwinds” DaVita might face in 2013.

This continued success is at least partially due to DaVita’s expansion away from the largely Medicare-funded kidney dialysis business into the broader health-care field, as evidenced by its purchase earlier this year of HealthCare Partners. (The $4.4 billion acquisition means the company’s formal name is now DaVita HealthCare Partners.)

But while we can’t deny DaVita’s ascendance and its value to shareholders—and to Denver as a local job-creator—the company’s aggressive and sometimes questionable business practices, along with its always unique culture (also pictured above) are keeping us in wait-and-see mode for now. Because to this point, the lesson from DaVita has been that if you aren’t an insider, in all possible ways, you are decidedly an outsider.

Rave: Time Stands Still at Curious Theatre

Through December 15, Curious Theatre, always one of Denver’s best troupes, is staging Time Stands Still by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies. This taut drama tracks the brief and explosive arc of a couple, a magazine writer, and a photojournalist who cover war zones for a living, until a harrowing experience forces them to choose between pursuing their passions and settling into a more “normal” life together. The small cast (Tara Falk, Devon James, Michael Morgan, and David Russell) delivers a wry, gritty, and engaging performance that paints a vivid and insightful picture of the otherworldly concerns that these professional adrenaline junkies wrestle with every day. Tickets $18-$44, through December 15 at Curious Theatre, 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524, curioustheatre.org.