Calm app acquires Ripple Health Group and appoints a new CEO

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Calm app screens on an iPhone

Source: Calm

Relaxation app Calm announced Wednesday it acquired Ripple Health Group. Ripple’s CEO David Ko will now serve as Calm’s co-CEO alongside Calm co-founder Michael Acton Smith.

Ripple is a health technology company that works to connect people with proper health care. Upon the acquisition, the Ripple team will focus on building Calm Health, a suite of services designed to support mental health across the care spectrum that will replace Calm’s current employer offering, Calm for Business.

The companies did not disclose the value of the acquisition. Calm is a private start-up last valued at $2 billion in December 2020.

Ripple will also continue to build its original products like Care Memo and LikePaper, which reduce the burden of caregiving for professional and nonprofessional caregivers.

“Expanding into Calm Health and the health care space will allow us to reach many, many more people and make service available at different price points,” Smith told CNBC in an interview Tuesday. Calm offers some free services, but others are limited to paid subscribers.

Smith co-founded Calm in 2012 with former co-CEO Alex Tew, who will now serve as the company’s executive chairman. Their goal was to destigmatize mental health and address the global mental health crisis, Smith said.

“We’re just getting started,” he said. “Combining with Ripple will allow us to grow a lot quicker and reach more people.”

Prior to Ripple, Ko was a board member, president and COO of another digital health company, Rally Health, which was acquired by UnitedHealth Group in 2017, according to Ripple’s website. Ko has been an adviser to Calm since 2019, he said in a news release.

“We were just thrilled when conversations turned to what we could do together,” Smith said. “Could we put these two amazing businesses, Calm and Ripple, together to change the world, to bend the health care curve and get close to solving the global mental health crisis.”

Ko told CNBC that he’s been impressed with Calm’s vast user base, that they have millions of members that engage with the application. Calm has over 100 million downloads, according to its website.

Calm’s services can not only address clinical mental health challenges but also help people better their overall mental well-being, Ko said.

“If you just did one thing that made you feel a little bit better every day, think about the impact that could have long term,” he said.

Ko and Smith’s goal is to reach a wider audience. One in four people will be affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Calm was growing before the pandemic, but the rate of growth accelerated dramatically over the last two years. In 2020, start-up Lyra Health, which sells employee mental health services to businesses, partnered with Calm to add the app to its treatment options.

Smith credits this growth to mental health stepping into the limelight of discussion.

“It is so valuable now that everyone is talking about it, and I don’t think it’s going to go away,” he said. “The challenges that the pandemic has brought on society will continue even as we return to work and normal life.”

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