Aaptiv raises $22M from Amazon, Disney and more for its “Netflix for fitness”, now valued over $200M

Comment

Health and wellness has been one of the biggest categories for development in the tech industry, with huge range of wearable devices and connected equipment being built to track how we are moving and helping us stay fit. Now, a startup whose app offers users a selection of audio-based, personal-trainer-led workouts that also monitors users as they progress through them, has closed a major round of funding that underscores how software — and specifically apps — are also capitalising on that trend. Aaptiv, which makes what its founder and CEO Ethan Agarwal described to me as “the Netflix of fitness” — providing streams of music-based fitness training on demand — has raised $22 million in funding.

(It’s not the only big wellness software app that’s announcing funding today: Calm, the meditation app, announced a $27 million round of funding today, too.)

The Series C round brings the total raised by New York-based Aaptiv to $52 million, and while the company is not disclosing its valuation, sources close to it tell me that it is now over $200 million. The company has picked up 200,000 paying members in the last two years, and says that its audio classes have been streaming more than 14 million times.

The funding is significant not only because it will give Aaptiv some firepower to expand its product and user base further — more on that below — but also because of who is in this round.

It was led by Millennium Technology Value Partners (backer of illustrious tech names like Spotify, Facebook and Alibaba); with e-commerce investor 14W and Insight Venture Partners also participating. There is also a list of notable strategic investors, including Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Disney, Warner Music Group and NWS Holdings.

Investors say they were attracted by the company’s growth.

“We are most excited by how fast Aaptiv has established itself as a category leader in the wellness and fitness space,” said Ray Cheng, Partner at Millennium, in a statement. “The company’s growth and user engagement metrics over the past two years are some of the best we have seen, and we believe a large opportunity awaits as Aaptiv continues deliver the best in class workout experience.”

The strategic investors are likely to manifest in a number of ways. Agarwal noted that there was a lot of potential to develop training services that could work with Amazon’s Alexa voice-based assistant and more specifically Amazon’s Echo devices: bringing more sticky content to the platform is a priority, given that discovery and retention have already been highlighted to be big issues with this shiny new tech, and regular fitness workouts could be the “killer app” for some people. Similarly, as Amazon starts to offer more perks as part of its Prime subscription package, it will be interesting to see how and if it extends to fitness content, too.

“Connected fitness is emerging as a compelling new domain for consumers,” said Paul Bernard, director of Amazon’s Alexa Fund, in a statement. “We’re excited about Aaptiv’s voice-first approach to personal training and look forward to helping them explore innovative ways to bring that experience to Alexa.”

Warner Music also has a clear connection here, given that the workouts and other classes are all music-based, meaning Aaptiv needs to license that content (and Warner itself, like other music industry players, must be eyeing up the growth of podcasts and wondering how and where it might play in them).

Lastly, Aaptiv will become a part of the Disney Accelerator this summer as part of the entertainment giant’s investment.

In terms of the product, Agarwal says that today Aaptiv covers 22 fitness categories, from boxing to jogging to yoga, and it will be looking to expand to more. It’s also hiring a lot of engineers to help build out the data science component of the product: figuring out how to improve recommendations and better tailor classes to individuals. Today, the audio files are static — meaning a workout does not modify on the fly if you are hitting a wall or finding it too easy — but the longer-term intention is to bring this sort of technology to bear to make the experience more personalised, tapping into diagnostics that the app will pick up from wearables like the Apple Watch.

Where engineers will not be working, however, is in creating “trainers” that will design or lead workouts. While Aaptiv competes against the likes of ClassPass in providing a way for individuals to find and partake in more fitness workouts, the end point is never a physical class or group workout. It’s a digital-only, audio-based, training session with a personal trainer hired by Aaptiv to create it. That is not likely to change any time soon.

“We might the only people willing to acknowledge that we will not use AI to replace trainers,” said Agarwal. “The trainers create the classes and that will be always the same. That relationship and drive and the passion cannot be matched by anyone or anything.”

“As evidenced by their strong growth, Aaptiv is running toward becoming the next big name in the fitness tech market, due substantially to a rather advanced technology strategy and approach to growth,” said Harley Miller, Vice President, Insight Venture Partners. “We are thrilled to further our investment in Aaptiv and look forward to working together to continue scaling their innovative product.”

More TechCrunch

Tags

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

22 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info