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The second coming of health trackers

August 30, 2021, 2:58 PM UTC

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If you’ll allow me to jog your memory from late 2016: The Chicago Cubs had just won the World Series for the first time since 1908, the IPO market was paltry, Donald Trump had just been elected the President of the United States, and investors were growing wary of the bevy of health trackers as Apple gained market share with its Watch.

Smart watch maker Pebble shut down as $3 billion Jawbone wound down in 2017. Intel later pivoted from wearables to augmented reality. Even FitBit—which finally closed its roughly $2 billion sale to Alphabet earlier this year—struggled amid the growth of Apple’s product.

But interest in the space has ballooned recently, despite the giants (ahem Apple, Amazon, and Google) now in the space. Fitness watch maker Whoop on Monday revealed it had raised $200 million in funding at a $3.6 billion valuation led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. In May, fitness ring maker Oura raised $100 million to focus on sleep.

Also on Monday, smart mattress maker Eight Sleep raised an $86 million round of Series C funding, valuing it at nearly $500 million per sources with knowledge of the matter. The startup currently uses a series of sensors to regulate temperature and to measure if a consumer is getting a good amount of sleep—though in the future, CEO Matteo Franceschetti plans to roll out tools that could mark if a user is showing signs of the flu in the near future. And further out, the company is working on sensors that could signal if a user is showing irregularities pointing to cancer.

With a $2,945 smart mattress and a $1,720 cover headlining its suit of products, Eight Sleep is not cheap. But CEO Franceschetti says that it’s able to fit more sophisticated sensors into its product than say FitBit or Apple can at the mattress’ price and size. And while the mattress business is not easy, as Casper has shown, Franceschetti notes that the rise of Peloton has shown that consumers are willing to pay big dollars for the sake of their health. Currently, Eight Sleep users in fact largely already own some kind of connected fitness device, like the Apple Watch.

Still, Eight Sleep is not alone in its mission to track diseases and disorders: Apple is reportedly working on a wearable to track changes in metabolism that could point to cancer. Oura CEO Harpreet Rai has been quoted saying he believes tracking factors such as “sleep apnea, blood pressure” will shift wearables into their next stage. Which raises the question, which wearable will then be the most accurate? Time will tell.

Read the story of Eight Sleep here.

GAMING IN CHINA: China has banned minors, those under 18, from playing online video games for more than three hours a week in a blow to gaming giants Tencent and NetEase. This also comes coincidentally as TikTok maker ByteDance has acquired a virtual reality company, Pico. Read more.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: 
@shenlucinda
Email: 
lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Petlove&Co, a Brazil-based online store for pets, raised R$750 million ($150 million). Riverwood Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Tarpon, SoftBank, L Catterton, Porto Seguro, and Monashees. 

- Genome Medical, a South San Francisco-based genomic care company, raised $60 million in Series C funding and acquired GeneMatters, a telehealth genetic counseling and software company. Casdin Capital led the round and was joined by investors including GV.

- Origin, a San Francisco-based employee financial wellness platform, raised $56 million in Series B funding valuing it at $400 million. Dick Costolo and Adam Bain’s 01A, General Catalyst, and Lachy Groom led the round and were joined by investors including Founders Fund, Felicis Ventures, and Abstract Ventures.

- Jifiti, a Columbus, Oh.-based buy-now-pay-later fintech, raised $20 million in funding. Ingka Investments led the round.

- Urbanbase, a South Korea-based interior planning and design platform, raised $11.1 million (13 billion won) in a Series B funding. Hanwha Hotel & Resort led the round.

- AnChain.AI, a Milpitas, Calif.-based blockchain security company, raised $10 million in funding. SIG Asia Investments led the round and was joined by investors including Fin VC, Nima Capital, Amino Capital, and Hard Yaka.

- Sastrify, a German Saas marketplace company, raised $7 million in seed funding. HV Capital led the round.

- Stonehenge Technology Labs, a Bentonville, Ark.-based company with a data platform for consumer packaged goods companies, raised $2 million in seed funding. Irish Angels led the round and was joined by investors including Bread and Butter Ventures, Gaingels, Angeles Investors, Bonfire Ventures, and Red Tail Venture Capital.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Altos Partners acquired Allied Underground, a Bertram, Texas-based construction company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Blackstone invested in DECA Dental Group, a Dallas-based dental services company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Charter Health Care Group, backed by Pharos Capital Group, acquired Genesis HospiceCare and Saints Hospice, two hospice providers in Texas. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- KKR acquired Ritchies Transport Limited, a New Zealand-based transportation operator. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board  acquired a majority stake in Acorn Health, a Coral Gables, Fla.-based provider of behavioral therapy for children diagnosed with autism. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- The Riverside Company acquired Craynon Fire Protection, a Dayton, Oh.-based provider of fire and life safety systems. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXIT

- Zebra Technologies (NASDAQ: ZBRA) plans to acquire antuit.ai, a provider of artificial intelligence software for consumer packaged goods companies, from Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHER

- Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) is in talks to acquire Hill-Rom Holdings (NYSE: HRC), a Chicago-based medical equipment maker, for about $10 billion, per the Wall Street Journal.

- ION's Castor Bidco boosted its bid to acquire Cerved, an Italian credit data company, by 7% to €2 billion ($2.35 billion).

- Ideanomics (NASDAQ: IDEX) acquired VIA Motors, an Orem, Ut.-based electric vehicle company, in a deal valued up to $630 million.

IPOS

- Rivian Automotive, a maker of electric pickups backed by Amazon, filed for an IPO. It could seek a valuation of $80 billion, per Bloomberg.

- Sovos Brands, a Louisville, Colo.-based provider of noosa yoghurt and Rao’s pasta sauces, filed for an IPO. Advent backs the firm.

- Olaplex, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based maker of hair care products, filed for an IPO. Advent backs the firm. 

- Toast, a Boston-based restaurant payments platform, filed for an IPO. Bessemer Venture Partners, T. Rowe Price, and TCV back the firm. 

- Freshworks, a San Mateo, Calif.-based maker of a Salesforce competitor, filed for an IPO. Accel India, CapitalG, and Tiger Global back the firm.

F+FS

- Sixth Street, a New York City-based private market investor, is seeking $3 billion for a growth fund, per Bloomberg.

- Trimble, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based software company,  launched a $200 million venture fund. 

PEOPLE

- IVP, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based later-stage investor, added Shreyas Garg and Joanne Shang as investors. Both previously worked at Morgan Stanley.

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