Virgin Pulse, Richard Branson-backed corporate-wellness firm, said to weigh sale

  • Tech boosts healthier employee habits, productivity
  • Evercore offers sell-side advice to Virgin Pulse
  • IVP led $92 mln financing round in company in 2015

Virgin Pulse, the employee-health-engagement firm backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Insight Venture Partners, is exploring a sale, Buyouts has learned.

Evercore is providing financial advice to Virgin Pulse, two sources said.

The Providence, Rhode Island, company, previously known as Virgin HealthMiles, generates revenue of $100 million to $125 million and is profitable, they said.

A third source speculated that the employer-focused wellness startup could trade for an Ebitda multiple in the ballpark of 12x.

Founded in 2004, Virgin Pulse through its digital offerings encourages healthier lifestyle habits for employees, with the goal of ultimately creating more productive workforces and driving down healthcare costs at associated organizations.

The company offers personalized apps supported by mobile and wearable devices that track health and fitness metrics for employee-members, offering incentives to fuel behavior. Virgin Pulse also offers disease-management programs and team-based corporate challenges, among other things.

The company in May 2015 closed a $92 million financing round led by IVP, the New York PE and VC firm, alongside existing investor Virgin Group.

Nikitas Koutoupes and Anika Agarwal, managing director and vice president at Insight, respectively, joined Virgin Pulse’s board in connection with the transaction.

David Osborne is CEO at Virgin Pulse, having taken the helm in June 2017. Founder and former CEO Chris Boyce was appointed vice chairman.

The change in the C-suite followed the company’s 2016 deals for Global Corporate Challenge of Melbourne and, simultaneously, ShapeUP of Providence, Rhode Island. Both GCC and ShapeUp focus on corporate challenges for companies and employees.

ShapeUp’s investors Cue Ball and Excel Venture Management and GCC investors invested capital into the combined entity, a February 2016 statement said.

In January of this year Virgin Pulse bought Preventure, a Coventry, Rhode, Island, corporate wellness provider.

Virgin Pulse serves more than 3,000 organizations including 20 percent of the Global Fortune 500, having added 670 new customers in 2017. The company says it serves more than 2 million members across 190 countries in 18 languages.

Other players operating in the corporate wellness space and offering comparable services include RedBrick Health, the sources noted. RedBrick, Minneapolis, which according to Crunchbase has raised almost $57 million to date, has multiple investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Versant Ventures and Highland Capital Partners.

In other activity in the digital employee health and wellness universe, VC-backed startup Jiff in January 2017 was acquired by Castlight Health for about $125 million.

Representatives of Evercore and Insight Venture Partners declined comment, while those with Virgin Pulse and Virgin Group didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Action Item: Learn more about Virgin Pulse:

Virgin Group’s founder, Sir Richard Branson (left), and a co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, leave the Elysee Palace after a meeting of philanthropists as part of the One Planet Summit in Paris on Dec. 12, 2017. Photo courtesy Reuters/Christophe Archambault.