Whoop CEO: I expect every big tech company to enter the health monitoring space

Whoop is now valued at $3.6 billion, after its latest $200 million funding round led by Softbank. Yahoo Finance’s Myles Udland and Brian Sozzi discuss the company overview and outlook with Whoop CEO, Will Ahmed.

Video Transcript


MYLES UDLAND: All right, well, fitness tracker Whoop, it is now valued at some $3.6 billion, following the company's fundraise earlier this week. SoftBank's Vision Fund coming in with $200 million. And whoop's CEO and founder, Will Ahmed, joins us now to talk about this latest fundraising, sort of the outlook for the business here. Will, great to have you on the program once again.

Let's just start with the capital raise, the second time I believe you guys have tapped the markets within the last year, if my calendar is correct there. And I'm just curious what the backdrop has been like for you guys both on your business side, but just the environment for folks who are looking to make the kinds of big venture bets that you guys are able to underwrite.

WILL AHMED: Yeah, you're right. You know, we raised $100 million in October of last year. So that would have been nine or 10 months ago. And now, obviously, just announced the $200 million raise led by SoftBank. I think it's a time where companies that are growing very rapidly like Whoop do have access to new capital. And that was certainly the case for us. SoftBank has been a great partner for us historically. They participated in our last round. And I think this is very early days for health monitoring.

Yes, Whoop is now the most valuable wearables company in the world, but it's still early innings. Wearable technology, in my opinion, has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry and really improve human lifespan. And we're starting to see that now with just the way Whoop members are changing their behavior and improving their health.

You know, for folks who aren't familiar with Whoop, it's a small wearable sensor collecting data around strain and recovery and sleep. And really, the biggest benefit to using Whoop is that it will help you change your behavior and improve your health. So if you've been on Whoop for a year, you've got a lower resting heart rate. You've got a higher heart rate variability. You're getting more sleep. You're getting higher sleep quality. And all of those things are obviously positive.

BRIAN SOZZI: Well, full disclosure, Will, I'm actually charging mine up right now. I've been using it for about eight months. So I totally get it. But when you are out there, raising--

WILL AHMED: What's your recovery today?

BRIAN SOZZI: It's still tracking. My usual average is about 40% or under. And it's very bad. It's very bad. But we're going to take that offline because I know I need to improve--



BRIAN SOZZI: That's pretty good. That is impressive. I would expect nothing less from the founder of Whoop. But let me ask you this. When you are out there raising this money, why are you able to raise this money at this valuation with the threat of the Apple Watch? I mean, this week, we're hearing that they might add a blood pressure monitor to the next Apple Watch. How are you closing these funding rounds?

WILL AHMED: Well, you know, the business has been growing very quickly. I think we're the fastest growing company in the space. We're also the only business that has a subscription. You know, Whoop is entirely a subscription. So whereas companies in the past like Fitbit or Jawbone were just selling hardware-- it was a one-time expense-- with Whoop, we have a very loyal membership base that is paying every month. And so that pulls us more into the Sas world than your traditional hardware business.

You know, in terms of other competitors in the space or other players in the space, this is-- health monitoring is really the future. And so I expect every single big technology company to try playing this space. Obviously, a lot of companies have entered and exited the space because they failed. I mean, it's a very hard space in general. So just the fact that there are trillion dollar companies playing in the space, I think that more so proves the market size and potential than anything else.

MYLES UDLAND: Yeah, Will, I wanted to ask a little bit about your work with high level athletes. You know, certainly, the headline might be working with Maholmes or with LeBron, some of these other folks. But, you know, I get a kick out of when, you know, you guys have the blog of someone who's in the Tour de France, right, what their strain is like. You do that with CrossFit athletes. What has that channel done for you guys? And how much more work-- I mean, do you want to have a Whoop tracker basically on every college and above athlete that you can find?

WILL AHMED: Absolutely, and we're starting to get there. I mean, I think if you meet a serious athlete who's wearing a wearable, there's, like, a 95% chance it's Whoop. You know, the technology and the origin story for Whoop was really to help optimize the best athletes in the world. And of course, we've found over time that our technology is now helpful for everyone.

But that high end, really aspirational pro athlete, I think, helps set a tone for the rest of us. I mean, sports is still a religion. People watch and enjoy their favorite athletes. We've been integrating Whoop data into live sports broadcasts with Whoop Live. I don't know if you guys have seen that, but the ability to see someone's heart rate as they're trying to make a putt to win the US Open or, shortly here, the Ryder Cup. We're now doing that in NASCAR. We're doing it in-- on the LPGA TOUR.

And we've got a bunch of announcements coming in terms of where else we'll be doing it. So that's one example where you're trying to connect the experience of the best athletes in the world and how their bodies are changing and evolving to stress with me and you. And, you know, it creates a feeling of understanding that comes with all the Whoop data. And I like that a lot.

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah, full disclosure, Will, I'm looking at my heartbeat right now on the platform. It's about 100 beats per minute interviewing you. So maybe it'll go down a little bit. But again, that's kind of, like, my norm. I do want to ask you, because Myles and I got into a pretty big debate earlier in the week on what is next for you in the hardware. I mean, this is a pretty simple band. I think we both agree we would like to see some innovation on the battery. What does the next generation of the strap look like?

WILL AHMED: OK, I just had to check. I'm at 60 right now, guys.

BRIAN SOZZI: That's pretty good. We're not asking you tough enough questions then.

WILL AHMED: You got to push me here. All right, so the hardware, you know, it's something we're constantly innovating on. I think we're going to have some really interesting announcements coming. And I guess I just have to say, stay tuned on that front.

BRIAN SOZZI: And, well, Will, quickly, before we let you go, what is the-- what's your ultimate goal here? I mean, do you envision the company as a public company? Do you envision it where you exit and put it under a larger umbrella? What's your vision?

WILL AHMED: Well, we're building the business to be a standalone business. So for now, that's being a private company. But I do expect over time, we'll be able to take the company public. We certainly have the revenue profile and gross margin profile of a successful publicly traded company. So we're going to keep marching with that in mind. I think Whoop is a pretty unique asset as a company because it operates within health monitoring, which is new and cutting edge and has a huge market potential. But it's also a subscription business. So it plays off the tail ends of your typical Sas business.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, we'll leave it there. And Will, it has been great tracking your story through the years. Will Ahmed, founder, CEO at Whoop. Will, I know we'll be in touch. Thanks for the time.