Gympass, a platform for employer’s benefits programs that offers fitness class bookings to members, announced this week the acquisition of Lisbon, Portugal-based artificial intelligence company Flaner.
With this, the Brazil-grown fitness platform will be opening up a new “Tech Hub” in Lisbon that will begin with Flaner’s current employees and expand to a full staff of 50, according to Gympass. This location will work with another Tech Hub opened recently in New York to augment the platform’s user experience through AI and machine learning.
“We are thrilled to acquire Flaner’s proven Artificial Intelligence technology and experienced product development talent,” Gympass CEO and cofounder Cesar Carvalho said in a statement. “This strategic partnership will further our vision to deliver intuitive customer experiences, both globally and at scale.”
Gympass is currently active across 14 countries, according to the announcement, and boasts more than 2,000 clients and over 50,000 gym or studio partners.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
In an email statement to MobiHealthNews, Crespo highlighted the fact that 80% of Gympass users didn’t have a gym membership prior to joining the program. With this in mind, he said the company has been interested in building technology that can promote lasting behavior change among these users — and Flaner’s background in AI could be a means to that end.
"The Flaner acquisition will allow us to further our AI-based technology which will in turn improve class recommendations for our users. Flaner’s expertise will also allow us to really ramp up search tools available on the platform so that Gympass users will have access to more customized results based on their personal fitness tastes and preferences,” he said. “For our corporate clients, the technology developments will further improve HR managers' access to data on how their employees are using Gympass’ services — whether that’s by location or activity type."
THE LARGER TREND
Gympass is a clear frontrunner in the corporate fitness space, having brought in $300 million from investors just this summer to achieve unicorn status. Along with targeting an improved user experience, the company hinted that it would be using those funds to fuel an expansion into Asian markets.
But the company is hardly without competition. ClassPass has picked up $225 million in investment financing for a similar platform, and at the head of this year acquired GuavaPass to fuel its own international ambitions.
All of this activity comes in spite of a meta-analysis published earlier this year that suggests fitness apps may not drive significant behavior improvements.
ON THE RECORD
“We are excited to join Gympass on its mission to defeat the global pandemic of physical inactivity,” Victor Ribeiro, CEO and founder of Flaner, said in a statement. “At Flaner, we have always created products that significantly improve lives. Now with Gympass’ unique offering, we can apply our expertise to positively change the lives of millions through innovative technology.”