MyFitnessPal, a service that allows users to track their calories and share that information with friends, has raised $18 million in its first round of funding.
This seems like one of those stories where a company goes years without raising any funding (MyFitnessPal launched in September 2005) before raising money from top-tier venture firms. The round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with participation from Accel Partners, and Kleiner’s John Doerr and Accel’s Andrew Braccia are joining the board.
MyFitnessPal has previously said that it has more than 40 million registered users. As part of the funding announcement, it also says that its users have lost a total of 100 million pounds to date, and that over the past year, it has been adding 1.5 million users every month.
As for why it’s raising money now, co-founder Mike Lee told me that he and his co-founder/brother Albert Lee have always had “a thousand item to-do list, and we could only do three things on it.” Over time, he said, “things kept dropping off the list, which kept getting bigger and bigger.” So raising money will allow the company to expand the team and to add the features that the Lees have been planning. It also allows MyFitnessPal to put more resources behind its recent efforts to expand internationally, which doesn’t just involve creating translated versions of the website and app, but also support for local foods and units of measurement.
As MyFitnessPal has grown, a number of other services have sprung up to help users track their health, some of them creating their own devices and others relying on the smartphone. The company actually offers an API that helps it integrate with outside services.
“Clearly there’s this explosion of activity happening around the quantified self,” Lee said. “The amount of data that we will have about our personal health is only going to grow. … We really want to advance our ability to help users make meaning from all this data. We really want to analyze the data to help our users be successful.”
As for making money, even though the company has been profitable since its inception, Lee acknowledged that MyFitnessPal hasn’t taken a particularly sophisticated approach in this area thus far: “We have not been focused on monetization to date, especially for a bootstrapped company. We literally slapped ads on.” So he plans to do “a lot of thinking” around the business model — the key, he said, is that MyFitnessPal is addressing a real pain point for users.