Weight Watchers' digital acquisition spree continues with purchase of fitness startup Hot5

By Aditi Pai
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Weight Watchers' Hot5Weight Watchers has acquired San Francisco-based fitness app developer, Hot5, according to a report from TechCrunch.

Hot5 was established in October 2012 and launched August 2013. The startup has developed two video workout apps, Hot5 Fitness and Vertical Escape Fitness Challenge, which are available for iOS devices. Both apps are free to download and offer a handful of workouts, but users need to sign up for a paid subscription for more.

Hot5 Fitness provides users with five minute videos, that vary in level, from beginner to expert, and include a variety of workouts, like yoga, cardio, and bodyweight. Users can either pay a monthly fee of $1.99 or a yearly fee of $14.99. Vertical Escape Fitness is a 16-week fitness program that combines high intensity intervals, metabolic conditioning, and strength training. The six-month fee for this app is $24.99 and the yearly fee is $44.99. 

TechCrunch explained that the startup's two apps will still be available through the Apple App Store, and that Weight Watchers is probably going to market the apps to their members.

This is the second digital health acquisition Weight Watchers has made within the last month and the third in the past two years. At the beginning of April, Weight Watchers acquired Weilos, which offers users a picture taking app to document weight loss through selfies. Sources said that Weight Watchers bought Weilos for a price in the “single-digit millions” and a Weight Watchers spokesperson confirmed this news to TechCrunch saying the acquisition would help Weight Watchers “accelerate the product and technology development of the social networking and community capabilities that Weight Watchers members are looking for.”

Last year, Weight Watchers acquired another weight loss-focused digital health startup, called Wello. Wello, a Rock Health company, launched in July 2012. That company connected people to professional trainers via two-way video messaging. Users could choose a trainer or discipline of their choice.

During a Weight Watchers’ quarterly conference call with analysts last year, Weight Watchers CEO Jim Chambers and CTO Dan Crowe explained that the Wello acquisition was an important component of the company’s strategy to compete in an increasingly digital weight loss market.

“We have an ambitious technology vision,” Crowe said at the time. “We will become a 21st-century technology organization, engineered for the digital era, whose innovative technology fundamentally improves the way people manage their weight, health and wellness. We will be agile service-oriented, data-driven, cloud-enabled and efficient. We will be a model for digital technology in the markets in which we compete and we will be a magnet for talented innovators both, inside and outside the company.”

A few weeks ago, Weight Watchers started recruiting 90 participants for a randomized control trial that will test the addition of a connected scale into its online weight loss intervention. The six-month double blind study will compare Weight Watchers’ online program with and without the addition of an electronic scale and weekly email feedback on weight loss. Participants will be provided with “an electronic scale that automatically transmits body weights to the Weight Watchers Online 2015 program, which generates a weekly feedback message on weight loss progress,” according to the ClinicalTrials.gov posting.