This morning New York-based startup AbleTo announced that it has acquired fellow virtual mental health startup Joyable for an undisclosed sum (though the company told CNBC the deal is in the tens of millions).
As part of the deal, AbleTo users will gain access Joyable’s mental health coaching app. According to a statement, the coach matches face-to-face therapy outcomes. In addition to the coaching sessions, users are able to do 5-minute activities to help them manage their mental well being.
AbleTo connects it users with a nationwide network of behavioral health providers, who use the company’s structured treatment protocols to treat the user’s condition, currently it has 600 therapists and coaches in its network. The companies said that by combining its products it will be able to expand its services.
Why it matters
In the US alone, one in five adults or 43.8 million individual experience mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
With the shortage of trained mental health professionals worldwide, many are turning to the digital space to fill the gaps. Talkspace and Happify Health are some of the other well known companies in the space. Even the British Royals have dipped their toes into the area — last year Prince William spearheaded an online tool kit to promote mental health in the workplace.
This acquisition means that two big names in the digital mental health arena are consolidating — having possible care and industry implications.
"For people living with unmet behavioral health needs, the expanded reach of AbleTo through Joyable's digital platform means millions more people will get the help they need," CEO Trip Hofer said in a statement. "For AbleTo's clients and partners, the combined capabilities and a commitment to continue innovating together means a greater impact on populations that would benefit from access to high-quality behavioral health care."
AbleTo was founded in 2008 by Micheal Laskoff. It has been raking in the money in the last few years with funders including Optum Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures. Most recently it raised $8.5 million — bringing the company’s total backing to a total of at least $65.9 million.
Joyable, on the other hand, has just $10 million in funding, a result of two rounds in 2015. This means, if the deal price was eight figures as reported by CNBC, investors at least made their money back.
Over the years, Joyable has had its ups and downs. In 2017 it laid off 20 people, saying it had adjusted its focus away from consumers and more towards health plans and employees. But shortly after this announcement the company launched a new CBT-based digital program for depression treatment for consumers— previously it was only available to employers.
This isn't the first $10 million-plus acquisition of a mental health app this year: Livongo bought MyStrength in January for a price in the same range.
On the record
"Joyable was founded on the idea that everyone should be able to access high-quality behavioral health care. Joining AbleTo will allow us to expand our mission with a team that shares the same goal," Joyable cofounder and CEO Peter Shalek said in a statement. "I am excited for Joyable to become part of a larger effort and continue to build and grow with our combined capabilities."
Editorial note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the year that AbleTo was founded.