Wearable-technology startup Whoop plans to add hundreds of new employees, mostly in the Boston area, during the next year, with help from a new influx of $100 million from investors that the company disclosed on Wednesday.
This funding round essentially doubles the amount of venture dollars Whoop has received since its formation eight years ago. It also places a $1.2 billion value on the company, making it Boston’s newest “unicorn,” or startup worth more than $1 billion (on paper).
Chief executive Will Ahmed said the company now employs 330 people, with more than 60 percent of them tied to the Boston office. That’s up from nearly 120 at the start of the year. Ahmed said he expects to double Whoop’s workforce over the next year — potentially adding 300-plus jobs, with most of them in Boston — as he looks to further improve the company’s software and analytics and pursue a global expansion.
Ahmed said he’s hiring people for a variety of positions: software, hardware, marketing, sales, membership services. During the pandemic, many employees are working remotely, but he hopes to “have a strong presence” at the Back Bay headquarters once concerns about COVID-19 abate.
“Long-term, we do expect to have a strong Boston headquarters,” Ahmed said. “We want to build one of the biggest consumer brands in Boston. For those reasons, we do expect many of these hires will be Boston-based.”
Whoop sells a wearable wristband that monitors its users' heart rate, sleep patterns, and other data and provides health advice, through a monthly subscription service. (The Whoop hardware is included in the price of the subscription, which is available for $30 a month.) Whoop doesn’t just track how someone is performing during a fitness activity, but also monitors that person’s cardiovascular health throughout the day and during their sleep.
Ahmed founded Whoop in Harvard University’s “i-lab” after graduating from Harvard in 2012, with the help of cofounders John Capodilupo and Aurelian Nicolae. Ahmed had been captain of Harvard’s squash team and was keenly interested in rest and recovery, and the roles they play in athletic performance.
While Whoop has been embraced by many athletes and fitness enthusiasts over the years, Ahmed said he’s seeing significant growth this year among other people who want to understand their bodies better, particularly with regard to exercise, diet, and rest, and how they interact.
California-based IVP led this latest funding round, and was joined by about a half-dozen other investment firms and several pro athletes. New athletes to invest in Whoop this time around, according to Ahmed, include Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and recently retired New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
“We’re trying to build a brand around human performance,” Ahmed said. “Some of the highest performing people in the world are professional athletes. From the very early days of starting the company, … it was [about] building a product that the highest performing people would get value out of.”
Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.