Feeling calm?


If you'd bought calm.com back in 2012 you could now be worth $1BILLION  

Damn. And that's such an obviously fabulous name. Go on, which clever Dick beat me to it?  

Two Brits from the shires, Michael Ashton Smith of Moshi Monsters fame and his mate Alex Tew, who first meditated as a teen. Their app Calm has just raised $88m in a new funding round that sees them joining the unicorn club. 

The what? 

It's a unicorn (and the world's first mental health-focused one) - you know, a privately held startup valued at over $1 billion. BTW, did you know a decacorn = $10 billion, while a hectocorn = $100 billion?   

I did not, but srsly I'd be happy with a unicorn. Anyway how did Smith go from that game my kids used to meditating? He always looks kind of ... crazed?

He had an epiphany on an Austrian mountaintop one summer morning in 2014. He'd fortuitously bought the name in 2012 (for a high five figure sum apparently). Now he had to realise his investment.  

Easier said than done - how did he manage that?

He and Tew took themselves off to San Fran, California, obvs. Being Brits, they cut the woo-woo and weirdness out of what everyone else was offering in free-but-not-really meditation apps, and by 2016 they were up to $7 million in the black. 

Wasn't One Direction star Harry Styles an early believer and investor? 

He was. But Calm.com's real genius in its bid to reduce anxiety, depression, and insomnia was introducing original content. First came the Daily Calm, a meditation only available on the day of release, then came Sleep Stories - basically bedtime storytelling for grownups designed to lull you into the land of Nod.  

Apparently we can all go to bed with Matthew McConaughey whispering in our ears. *wonders how much he got paid*

Actually McConaughey's dulcet tones will cost you a subscription of £35.99 a year. For free, it's Stephen Fry reading slow-lit (it's a thing) about meandering through lavender fields in southern France. "People laughed at us when we said we were going to create bedtime stories for adults," said Acton Smith. Not lolling now.  

Especially not that guy from Headspace. Hasn't he been bumped off the meditation top slot? (I found his cheery chappy voice v annoying).

Indeed. Bristolian Buddhist Andy Puddicombe who launched Headspace back in 2010 is in a head-to-head battle with Calm that the Wall Street Journal claimed eight weeks ago was anything but zen. (Headspace's valuation was a mere $320m last year, though both claim to have a million paid subscribers.)  

But aren't they both missing the point? To reach true nirvana surely we should be locking our phones away, not having films stars whispering to us through them next to our heads at night?

You might be missing the point here too - the meditation and mindfulness industry is worth $1.2 billion and growing rapidly. Always about the money, honey.

Namaste to you too.


Jackie Annesley