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How Thrive Global's latest deal puts it on a path to health care

Anjalee Khemlani
Senior Reporter
Business and technology concept, polygon digital brain graphic in human palm

Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is eyeing greater expansion into clinical operations with its latest acquisition of artificial intelligence platform Boundless Mind.

Thrive was founded as a way to end the stress and burnout associated with the demands of the modern workplace, primarily from people being constantly plugged in. The acquisition of Boundless Mind — which uses technology to interpret and influence behavior — could nudge Thrive toward deeper involvement in health care.

It’s a path the tech company has been pursuing since its founding back in November 2016. At that time, Thrive was looking to partner with a South African company with insurance partners across the world, but the arrangement didn’t work out.

Boundless was formerly known as Dopamine Labs when it first came on Thrive’s radar. “They kind of became known for being the company that could help unhook users from social media addiction using the same levers that got them hooked in the first place,” chief brand officer Danny Shea told Yahoo Finance in an interview.

“What Boundless does is it accelerates [Thrive’s] AI roadmap by about 12 to 18 months,” according to Shea. “It allows us to move much more quickly.”

The company is evolving “into a more clinical payor-provider, health insurance world,” he added.

Changing behavior to boost health care

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 17: Arianna Huffington speaks onstage during the TIME 100 Health Summit at Pier 17 on October 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TIME 100 Health Summit )

Terms of the deal with Boundless were not disclosed, but Thrive Global believes deal puts the company closer to where it wants to be as the future of health care takes shape.

“Right now our health care conversation is mostly about how to pay for insurance and access to treatment once you get sick,” Huffington said in a statement.

“There is no health care finance answer to our health care crisis. Only a change in the way we eat, the way we sleep, the way we move and the preventative medical measures we take can make a real dent in the crisis we’re facing that is destroying so many lives,” she added.

“Right now, our focus is on reaching people through their employers. Because we have been in that market for two and a half years.”

Thrive has already partnered with major corporations, including Accenture, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Hilton Hotels, to offer employees an accountable platform to monitor their tech use and other habits.

“There’s tremendous appetite, and excitement, for a holistic solution,” Shea said.

In fact, those employer and B2B relationships are exactly how Thrive can break into the clinical side, by gathering data and formulating outcomes and learning.

Shea told Yahoo Finance that “this is about performance management, performance optimization and how do employees show up every day their most recharged, their most focused...[and] most ready to take on the challenges of the day.”

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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