On Friday Bloomberg reported that Honest Company, an online retailer of eco-friendly baby, beauty and home cleaning products, was working with Goldman Sachs in preparation for an IPO. Honest Company has a particularly high profile because it was co-founded by actor Jessica Alba. If Bloomberg’s report turns out to be true, the public disclosures that come with an IPO filing could shed light on a digital health acquisition the company made – very quietly -- a little over a year ago, in January 2015: Alt12 Apps.
San Francisco-based Alt12 is better known by its apps, which in aggregate have been downloaded more than 17 million times: pregnancy tracker and social network BabyBump, women’s social network and health tracker Pink Pad, and parenting social network Kidfolio.
Alt12’s co-founders Jennifer Wong and Casey Sackett now run mobile at Honest Co. As of January 2015, Wong is Head of Mobile Apps there and Sackett is Head of Mobile Apps Engineering.
While Honest Company ran some promotional campaigns on some of Alt12’s social networks following the acquisition, as far as MobiHealthNews can tell, neither company has announced or disclosed the change in ownership publicly.
Prior to the Honest Company acquisition, some of Alt12’s apps offered premium versions, but those have since become free to use. For example, at one time the paid version of BabyBump for iPhone cost $3.99 and Pink Pad was $1.99. An HD iPad app for Pink Pad cost $2.99 in 2012.
Wong and Sacket founded Alt12 in 2009, back in the early days of the iPhone, app stores, and digital health. In 2012 the startup raised $1.26 million in its seed round of funding led by Aydin Senkut's Felicis Ventures and with participation by InterWest Partners and individual investors like HealthTap founder Ron Gutman. At the time of the announcement Alt12 counted 4.5 million total downloads across its app portfolio.
Interestingly, around the same time Honest Company quietly snapped up Alt12, another retailer, sports apparel giant Under Armour very publicly shelled out hundreds of millions to acquire MyFitnessPal and Endomondo. In some ways the Honest Company-Alt12 deal is a smaller scale version of the Under Armour acquisition spree.
Under Armour's initial plans for leveraging its new fitness tracking social networking apps was to find creative ways to advertise its existing products -- athletic wear -- to the more than 100 million users its two new apps had between them. Similarly, Alt12 touts its Sliprose technology platform as one that marries social networking with social commerce, tracking and analytics: "Native mobile storefront with personalized recommendations based on deep life stage and peer-to-peer engagement." It's not hard to understand why Honest Company, which creates products for the same groups that use Alt12's apps, might acquire the startup, or at least acquihire it's team, to build out its mobile capabilities.
If Bloomberg's sources are correct and an Honest Company IPO is in the works, we may soon find out more about how Alt12's apps, and their millions of users, fit into Honest's longterm digital strategy.