Arianna Huffington is turning her attention to corporate wellness, an industry estimated to reach $10.4 billion globally over the next two years, according to IBIS World.
On Thursday, Huffington announced her departure from the Huffington Post. Now, she plans to shift her attention to Thrive Global, the corporate wellness startup set to launch in November where she serves as founder and CEO.
"Running both companies would have involved working around the clock, which would be a betrayal of the very principles of Thrive I've been writing and speaking about," she said in a statement.
Abby Levy, the president at Thrive Global, says the two will be sharing responsibilities. "For now, as with any growth business, we're going to be involved in every detail," Levy tells Inc. "Arianna -- in the same way she has grown Huffington Post over the past 11 years -- will apply all of those learnings and passion to leading Thrive Global. We view each other as partners in that endeavor."
The company plans to operate with two business models: First, it will offer wellness programs, including seminars, web courses, and technology products (i.e., an app to help employees manage email while on vacation) to companies in industries such as consulting, banking, and hotels. Levy and Huffington are currently working with Accenture to develop a pilot training program for the consultancy.
Secondly, Thrive Global will retail a slate of wellness products on an e-commerce store -- ranging from scented candles to mattresses. It plans to develop proprietary apps, including one that shuts off your smartphone when you want to sleep, sans override. It's also partnering with nascent healthcare startups like Livongo Health and Doctor on Demand, which it hopes to afford "greater reach and distribution" over time, according to the company's pitch deck.
Levy, who spent 8 years as an independent health advisor to small businesses, recognizes that the wellness industry is growing saturated. Still, she sees immense potential for Thrive Global. "Through our program, we focus on bias for action," Levy explains. "At the end of each workshop, each employee commits to making micro-steps. Then we support them, whether that's through having a peer support network, having weekly check-ins, or sending emails."
When Huffington first approached Levy some two months ago with the opportunity to come on board, Levy says the decision was an easy one.
"We've known each other for several years, and I've been a huge fan and supporter of her work," she says. "When I learned that Thrive was becoming a business, as opposed to just the literature that had existed, I knew I wanted to be involved."
Thrive Global, which raised $7 million in Series A funding this month, also benefits from having a robust board of directors, including Kenneth Lerer, managing partner of Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna. Lerer Hippeau led Thrive's funding round, with participation from investors such as Blue Pool Capital, Jack Ma's Hong Kong-based investment fund, and Greycroft Partners.