Subscription-based fitness tracker company Whoop has won the hearts of professional athletes like Olympic swimmer Connor Jaeger and international basketball star Matthew Dellavedova. Now, Whoop is getting a different kind of attention from venture capitalists.
While the self-proclaimed "human performance" operation isn't publicly traded on the stock market, big-time investors have gone all-in on the brand. Ultimately, a ticker could be in Whoop's future.
Whoop gets helps from major investment firm SoftBank
Japanese investment company SoftBank injected a $200 million investment into Whoop through the firm's second Vision Fund. Following the investment, Whoop proclaimed a massive $3.6 billion enterprise valuation. If the metrics ring true, that makes Whoop the largest fitness monitoring startup that isn't tied to a corporation (Google, of course, owns FitBit, which rakes in billions in revenue annually).
Whoop's latest funding round occurred in October 2020. At the time, the brand was worth less than a third of its current value.
Whoop isn't publicly traded yet
Will Ahmed, the CEO of Whoop, recognizes that his company is going against massive competitors day in and day out. He told reporters, "Being well capitalized as a start-up when you take on the biggest companies in the world tends to be a good strategy."
While Whoop isn't publicly traded yet, the influx of capital means that the brand can tackle bigger goals, which may or may not include a route toward the public market.
Meanwhile, SoftBank's second Vision Fund is causing Whoop's competition pool to whirl even more. In 2020, the firm led a $100 million investment round for a company called Biofourmis, whose main product is a wrist sensor that monitors physiological data to predict potential medical issues.
Many SoftBank investments have gone public.
SoftBank's investment tracker is an ever-growing list. Some of its investments work out well, while others undermine profits (I'm looking at you, WeWork). However, many of SoftBank's investments have gone on to hit the public market, including DoorDash (NYSE:DASH), NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), Coupang Inc. (NYSE:CPNG), and Opendoor Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:OPEN).
Granted, many of these stocks have been volatile since they went public, but the proof is in the official SEC registration.
Also, SoftBank is considering taking its Vision Fund public in a $300 million SPAC, according to a Bloomberg report earlier this year.
Is Whoop on track to be publicly traded?
Whoop's strategy is different from many of its competitors in that it thrives on elitism. While FitBit is marketed as the fitness tracker for everyone, Whoop is tailored to the higher end of the athletic spectrum. The brand does this by almost nitpicking at exercise and stress data, which is mostly relevant to people who make careers out of movement.
Right now, that could mean Whoop plans to continue using institutional capital on a privately held basis (it is elite, after all). If the research, development, growth, and expansion work in Whoop's favor, retail investors might get to bite one day.
The company has completed through Series F funding, and near the time where companies usually announce that they're hitting the public market. Whatever the case, a fork in the road lies ahead for Whoop.