Some of the biggest names in sports are investing in the wearable company Whoop amid a global pandemic.
The fitness tracking company announced Wednesday it closed a $100 million financing round, valuing it at $1.2 billion.
The latest round of investors includes Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, champion golfers Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant (via his business venture ThirtyFive Ventures).
Whoop makes fitness trackers that can monitor vitals like movement, sleep and workouts. It’s been the fitness tracker of choice for a number of recognizable pro athletes, and has been used to help monitor potential symptoms of Covid-19 as sports came back after play was suspended due to the pandemic in the spring.
“I’ve always loved Whoop the product, but I learned that Whoop the business was just as good. I’m proud to be investing again in this round of financing and very excited about the company’s prospects,” McIlroy said in a statement. The four-time Majors Champion also serves as a global ambassador to Whoop.
The funding round was led by venture capital firm IVP, which will get a board seat with Whoop. Other participating investors include SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Accomplice, Two Sigma Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Thursday Ventures, Nextview Ventures, Promus Ventures, Cavu Ventures and D20 Capital.
“A lot of the capital will go towards investing in membership, the overall experience, software, analytics and hardware,” Will Ahmed, Whoop CEO said in an interview with CNBC. “It’s really about bolstering the coaching aspect of Whoop. We aspire to be a 24/7 life coach to tell you what you need to do to improve.”
The Boston-based sports wearable company got its start in 2012 and now has more than 330 employees after a surge of recent hires. Ahmed said the company has hired 200 new employees in 2020.
The company wouldn’t provide revenue numbers but said its subscribers have been growing quickly over the last 12 months due to an increased interest in health during the pandemic. Whoop has raised more than $200 million in funding to date.
“Whoop has built best-in-class wearable technology and an aspirational brand that have propelled the company to an impressive period of hypergrowth,” Eric Liaw, General Partner at IVP, said in a statement.
Ahmed said Whoop members range from professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs and fitness enthusiasts. The nylon band equipped with sensors is designed to gather data to measure everything from exertion levels to sleep patterns to help users improve their overall health. Whoop’s business model is based on a subscription service. Users sign up for a monthly subscription starting at $30 and the wearable devices are included for free.
Whoop has seen recent success and raised its global profile during the pandemic as many users have noticed changes in their health scores as early indicators of coronavirus symptoms.
Ahmed said that Whoop members have reported Covid-19 symptoms “thousands of times” with the app and the company will have additional announcements in its July study that is about to be peer reviewed.
In June, PGA Tour golfer Nick Watney said it was his wearable fitness tracker that first alerted him that he may have coronavirus. Ahead of the RBC Heritage event, Watney noticed his respiratory rate had spiked from Whoop’s app. Despite not feeling any of the physical symptoms associated with Covid-19, Watney decided to get tested and discovered he was positive for the virus.
Following his diagnosis, the PGA Tour signed a deal with Whoop to make their product available to all golfers and caddies on the Tour who wanted one. The Tour finished its recent season with fewer than 10 positive cases over 18 events.
Today, companies like Tory Burch are using Whoop in their offices as a way to track their health and fitness. Ahmed said the enterprise opportunity has become a meaningful business for Whoop, which is working with a number of businesses that want to be able to help large audiences and teams better understand their bodies and health.
“I think when you’re building a business you have to adapt to the environment,” said Ahmed. “We’ve had to learn how to support our customers during an unusual time but also at a time where health monitoring has become more and more important,” he said.