Mubadala-backed mental health start-up BetterUp valued at nearly $5bn after funding round

The company, which hired the UK's Prince Harry to become its chief impact officer, provides online coaching and mental health services using AI technology and behavioural science

US-based BetterUp, which is backed by Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Company, raised $300 million in a late-stage funding round, bringing the mental health start-up's valuation to $4.7 billion, as the Covid-19 pandemic spurred demand for mental well-being services, the company said.

The California-based company's Series E funding round was led by Wellington Management, ICONIQ Growth and Lightspeed Venture Partners, it said in a statement on Friday. Existing investors Mubadala Investment Company, Salesforce Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Morningside Group, SV Angel, and Plus Capital also participated in the latest round.

"We are in the midst of the great global awakening surrounding hybrid work, mental health and well-being, and diversity and inclusion,” Alexi Robichaux, chief executive and co-founder of BetterUp, said. "This funding will continue to accelerate our mission to bring the most comprehensive and powerful suite of tools to individuals and help them thrive in their roles, unlock their peak performance, and live with purpose and clarity.”

The funding comes ahead of World Mental Health Day on Sunday. The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the culture of work, with millions of employees working remotely, leading to a radically different workplace landscape and a greater need to focus on supporting people's mental well being. This year, the focus of World Mental Health Day will be on scaling up access to quality mental health care.

The world has failed to provide people with the mental health services they need, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting a growing need for mental health support, according to the World Health Organisation. Higher demand for mental health services, which became even more acute during the Covid-19 crisis, is not being met with adequate levels of investment, resulting in a "disappointing" shortfall, the WHO concluded in its new Mental Health Atlas report.

"We must heed and act on this wake-up call and dramatically accelerate the scale-up of investment in mental health, because there is no health without mental health," Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said.

BetterUp, which hired the UK's Prince Harry to become its chief impact officer in March 23, provides online coaching and mental health services using AI technology and behavioural science. Founded in 2013, BetterUp counts among its customers Google parent Alphabet, Hilton, Warner Bros, Airbnb, Lyft, Nasa, Snap, Chevron and Salesforce, according to its website.

The Silicon Valley start-up will use the funds to drive new product innovation that will "democratise coaching" for hundreds of thousands of employees in organisations, regardless of their position or level, it said. The funding will also propel BetterUp’s international growth, after it recently opened new offices in Munich, London and Amsterdam.

The latest funding round brings total investment into the company to $600m. It also follows a Series D round in February when the company raised $125m and a valuation of $1.7bn at the time.

"Never has the pressure been greater on our global workforce, and as we collectively redefine the workplace, it’s clear that every organisation and every employee critically need support, growth, and transformation," Mr Robichaux said.

With a network of more than 3,000 coaches, BetterUp provides training in 46 languages across more than 90 countries, to more than 380 companies.

“What the last year has taught us, in the midst of the workplace revolution, is that there is an ever growing demand for employee well-being and support,” said Brent Hyder, president and chief people officer at Salesforce, also a customer of BetterUp.

“In BetterUp we found a partner that would allow teams across the world to navigate uncertainty, remote work, and virtual environments."

Updated: October 9th 2021, 9:07 AM