Workplace Culture

Huffington’s Move to the Corporate Wellness Space Was Smart: Here’s Why

By Andie Burjek

Aug. 17, 2016

Arianna Huffington wants the world to be well. And to do just that, she’s departed from her online media empire Huffington Post to found and run Thrive Global, a corporate wellness venture set to launch in November.

Thrive Global will offer workshops, e-courses and certification programs, as well as create a host of wellness technology apps and host an e-commerce store, according to a Thrive Global release. It also has reportedly partnered with digital health provider Livongo Health and San Francisco-based telemedicine provider Doctor on Demand, though Dr. Lena Cheng, vice president, medical affairs for Doctor on Demand, denied that there is a working relationship with Thrive Global.

We don’t actually have a partnership with Thrive Global,” Cheng said via email. “There have been a few articles that have stated that, but those statements were based (we believe) on a pitch deck from Thrive which mentioned that they plan to partner with companies like Doctor On Demand.” Cheng, however, hinted that there could be some kind of arrangement between the two in the future. 

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Arianna Huffington is leaving the Huffington Post for her start-up, Thrive Global. Photo credit: C2 Montreal

With corporate wellness predicted to be a $10 billion industry within two years, the field is understandably crowded. Still, one industry executive welcomes the high-profile newcomer. Henry Albrecht founded his Bellevue, Washington-based corporate wellness software company Limeade in 2006 when corporate wellness was still in its early stages, and said he’s excited about his new competitor.

“When a brilliant thought leader like Arianna turns her attention to a topic like wellness, not only do the early technology disrupters and well-being pioneers like Limeade benefit, employees who use these technologies also benefit,” Albrecht said. “We welcome the attention because we share the same vision of promoting positive approaches to well-being that drive real human and business results.”

As Thrive Global prepares for its fall launch, Inc. reports that Huffington and newly named president Abby Levy are currently working with consultancy Accenture to develop a pilot training program.

A February 2016 IBISWorld Industry Report on corporate wellness services in the United States noted that in the next five years, the industry should “exhibit robust growth” thanks to organizations that hope to lower health care costs by adopting wellness programs. Also, healthier, less-stressed employees tend to stay at companies more often, and companies may look at healthier employees as an opportunity to increase retention, the report noted.

Given the potential in the wellness industry, Huffington’s decision to start a wellness company makes sense, said Andrew Cohan, managing director of Horwath HTL USA, in an email response.

“Ms. Huffington strikes me as one of those very busy, very accomplished people who gets things done. Yet her decision was all about letting go, and recognizing when a chapter in life is ending and another beginning,” said Cohan, a hospitality consultant with expertise in health and wellness resorts.

“In short, wellness is all about vitality,” he said. “And she appears to be quite vital, making big life decisions based on the principles she has learned and is now committed to espouse with Thrive.”

Andie Burjek is a Workforce associate editorComment below, or email at aburjek@humancapitalmedia.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

Andie Burjek is an associate editor at Workforce.com.

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