It took more than a year of looking, but Arianna Huffington found her first chief operating officer for the growing Thrive Global.
Steven Schwartz, previously president of Dataminr, a company that — like the name suggests — mines first-person data and social media for trends and emerging topics, has joined Thrive as its new chief operating officer. Huffington has been filling out her c-suite as of late but is relieved to have found someone to head up operations as a whole.
“We’re having a big celebration now that it’s over,” Huffington said from her home in Los Angeles. “It took so long because I was looking for an executive with a skill set that is able to move the company to our next stage of growth, rolling out our behavioral change platform and digital product, positioning us for massive scale.”
Thrive is not yet three years old and was last year valued at $120 million, but Huffington’s ambitions seem endless. Thrive’s current behavior change product, given in workshops and “microstep” guides aimed at tackling burnout culture and boosting productivity at major corporations like J.P. Morgan and Blackstone, is set to go global. It’s starting to partner with brands like Proctor & Gamble in an effort to create mindfulness — and awareness of Thrive — at the ground level of some of our most basic tasks: seeing an affirmation while hair washing and teeth brushing, for instance. Then there’s the digital content, which Huffington said hit 35 million uniques across the web and social platforms combined. This represents Thrive’s idea of “stacking” small mental and lifestyle changes to improve wellbeing, but also the company’s opportunity for the kind of scale Huffington is planning on.
She wants Thrive online to offer “a curation of the whole wellness ecosystem.” “One of the problems with the space is there are so many vendors for wellness.” She also wants Thrive to reach consumers “wherever they are.”
All of this is where Schwartz comes in, with his years of experience in data-driven growth and in global markets. Already he has the kind of enthusiastic devotion to Thrive’s mission of combating stress and workplace burnout — something Huffington noted the World Health Organization just officially recognized — with “science-based solutions” that seems to come easy to Huffington’s hires.
“We started the Monday meeting by going around and everyone sharing how they refueled this weekend,” Schwartz said. “Then we dove right in, super productive and plotted out the week.”
In a year, he sees the company expanding so that “entire populations,” within companies and maybe without, are using Thrive well-being products.
“I envision continued scale, which means continuing these massive deployments of product,” Schwartz said.
It also means starting to look sidelong at some possible acquisitions. Huffington said she’s just brought on a general counsel in San Francisco, where Thrive’s product and engineering team is based. She didn’t get too specific, but acquisitions on the tech side may be where Thrive looks first. “Maybe a company that launched a product that they don’t see scaling, so they’d be open.” Schwartz mentioned the massive amount of data Thrive has gathered so far and alluded to a “future acquisition on that front.”
But ultimately, Huffington said her goal with Thrive is to grow it so it affects as many people as possible.
“Changes in human behavior is the ultimate innovation.”
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