Arianna Huffington Takes Wellness Mission to New Heights With Thrive Global

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Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg

You're stressed. You're exhausted. And Arianna Huffington has created a new company to help you out.

Ms. Huffington, a seemingly indefatigable media presence, has over the past few years made wellness and work-life balance as much a part of her personal brand as her devotion to progressive politics and opposition to conservative politicians like Donald Trump. She's written books, including "Thrive" in 2014 and "The Sleep Revolution" this year, and has traveled the world, giving speeches and imparting the lessons she's learned from her own, well-documented burnout.

When it was announced in mid-August that Ms. Huffington would leave The Huffington Post, the news organization she co-founded, it was a huge surprise to the media industry. But her decision to depart to focus on a new company dedicated to "reducing stress and exhaustion," called Thrive Global, seemed to fit her evolving focus on wellness.

With the global wellness industry estimated at $3.4 trillion by SRI International, there seems to be opportunity here, enough that Thrive has reportedly raised $7 million in Series A venture capital funding, led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, which backs many of the leading New York-based media companies.

"The need and the urgency for a platform like Thrive, it's so imminent, it's so here," said Thrive Global President Abby Levy, a former college athlete who gained an appreciation for time management and proper preparation from the experience and who will work hand-in-hand with Ms. Huffington on the company. "The size of the opportunity warrants a kind of multipronged approach that we're taking on a global level."

Thrive is working on two fronts: corporate and consumer. The company has already partnered with major firms like Accenture to help counsel employees on how to live and work their best lives. Thrive Global already has conducted 99 training classes for Accenture in six countries, according to Ms. Huffington. The company said it has a few other corporate clients but declined to identify them.

"The culture is shifting toward the recognition that for people to perform at their best at work they need to take care of themselves," Ms. Huffington said.

While it's less defined presently than the company's services for corporations, Thrive Global in November will launch a "consumer platform" that will include a website and first-person contributions from luminaries about their personal approach to balance and healthy living, hosted on the platform Medium. There will also be content on scientific studies about wellness and an e-commerce component.

Thrive Global is not considered a media company and won't have a chief editor, Ms. Huffington said, though "there will be a team that navigates the offerings."

There will also be support groups called "Thrive Tribes," Ms. Huffington said.

The third pillar of the business is proprietary app technology—which ironically will essentially produce technology to help consumers wean themselves off technology. Ms. Huffington admits this "sounds paradoxical."

Asked whether the corporate or consumer side of the business would be the bigger revenue generator, Ms. Levy said "both have amazing potential. We're seeing that already in terms of the traction we're getting."

Thrive Global has a built-in audience already amassed from Ms. Huffington's books and the work she has done to spread the gospel of Thrive, according to Ms. Levy. "She has built a movement, and we see that with our announcement," Ms. Levy said. "The response on a global level has been huge."

Ms. Levy said that advertising, primarily in the form of "marketing partnerships," will be a part of the company's revenue picture. But she plans to be selective. "We'll be very thoughtful about curating the right marketing partners that support our mission," she said.

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