Mirror Entrepreneur Sold Her Fitness Startup to Lululemon. Letting Go Meant Sticking Around.

Brynn Putnam, a former ballerina, knows something about pivoting. That skill was put to the test this year when the 37-year-old entrepreneur finally got a boss.

Ms. Putnam created the Mirror, an at-home fitness product that streams workout classes to a reflective glass propped against the wall. As the pandemic increased the demand for such gadgets, Ms. Putnam adjusted by deciding to sell Mirror to Lululemon Athletica Inc. for $500 million.

Ms. Putnam cashed in but didn’t check out: She remains chief executive of Mirror, reporting to Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald. Her new boss said his vision for Mirror is aligned with its creator’s. Mr. McDonald runs a clothing company, not an equipment manufacturer—he wants Ms. Putnam to take her ideas and run faster, harder and stronger.

“Certainly, Mirror is my baby, and it’s scary to release some of my hold,” Ms. Putnam told me earlier this month. Four months after the purchase, Lululemon has already begun making changes intended to make releasing her hold easier, such as putting more marketing might behind the products, and investing in future technology. Mirror’s 2020 revenue forecast has been increased to $150 million from $100 million since the sale, reflecting increased awareness and availability.

The marketplace is full of enterprises that sold to bigger companies with the goal of accelerating the founder’s vision rather than changing it. In 2017, Amazon.com Inc. bought Whole Foods Market Inc. A year later, a unit of Foxconn Technology Group acquired Belkin International Inc (maker of Linksys networking products, iPhone chargers and other devices). In 2019, Alphabet Inc.’s Google agreed to purchase Fitbit Inc.

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COVID start-up based in GOP donor’s luxury condo could get millions from U.S.

An obscure South Carolina company may be in line for millions of dollars in U.S. government funding to produce a coronavirus treatment after a former Republican senator with a financial stake in the business lobbied senior U.S. government officials, the Associated Press reports.

Plasma Technologies LLC, has received seed money to test a possible COVID-19-fighting blood plasma technology. But as much as $65 million more could be on the way, a windfall for the company that operates out of the founder’s luxury condo, according to internal government records and other documents obtained by the Associated Press.

The story of how a tiny business that exists only on paper has managed to snare so much top-level attention is emblematic of the Trump administration’s frenetic response to the coronavirus pandemic.

And it’s another in a series of contracts awarded despite concerns over their proposals voiced by government scientists. The others include a $21 million study of the heartburn drug Pepcid as a COVID therapy, and more than $500 million to ApiJect Systems America, a startup with an unapproved medicine injection technology and no factory to manufacture the devices. In addition, a government whistleblower claimed that a $1.6 billion vaccine contract to Novavax Inc. was made over objections of government scientific staff.

At the center of these deals is Dr. Robert Kadlec, a senior Trump appointee at the Department of the Health and Human Services, who backed the Pepcid, Novavax and ApiJect projects. Records obtained by the AP also describe Kadlec as a key supporter of Plasma Tech, owned by Eugene Zurlo, a former pharmaceutical industry executive and well connected Republican donor. Three years ago, Zurlo brought Rick Santorum, who spent 12 years as a GOP senator from Pennsylvania, aboard as a part-owner.


Road to a vaccine: Operation Warp Speed

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Kadlec has come under pressure from the White House to act with more urgency and not be bound by lower-level science officials whom Trump has castigated as the “deep state” and accused of politically motivated delays in fielding COVID-19 vaccines and remedies.

The AP reached out to more than a dozen blood plasma industry leaders and medical experts. Few had heard of Zurlo’s company or its technology for turning human plasma into protein-rich antibody therapies, and would not comment.

Zurlo said in an email that the shortage of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, which is needed to make these therapies, underlines the need for the technology he’s patented to harvest as many of these proteins as possible.

Rick Santorum steps up sales pitch

In early April, shortly after Congress supplied hundreds of billions of dollars to combat the pandemic, Santorum stepped up his sales pitch for Plasma Technologies and the process the company has described as “disruptive and transformative,” according to the records.

In mid-August, the federal government awarded Plasma Technologies a $750,000 grant to demonstrate that it could deliver on its promises.

HHS would not comment when asked whether Santorum’s public backing of the president helped the company he has

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Whoop raises $100 million, valuing the fitness tracker startup at $1.2 billion

(Reuters) – Fitness tracker startup Whoop said on Wednesday it raised $100 million in Series E funding from investors including venture capital firm IVP and SoftBank Vision Fund 2, valuing the company at $1.2 billion.

Popular athletes like 10-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, Super Bowl MVPs Patrick Mahomes and Eli Manning, among others, also participated in the funding round, the company said in a statement here.

Boston-based Whoop said it would primarily use the new funds for product and software development, global expansion and membership services.

Whoop also offers a monthly subscription for round-the-clock health monitoring through a free fitness band it provides with the membership.

The company’s tracker is the fitness band of choice for a host of pro-athletes. The PGA Tour had bought 1,000 Whoop bands for players, caddies and media covering the golf tournament.

Whoop founder Will Ahmed said customers were increasingly using the technology to measure their respiratory rate, which is a key statistic for understanding COVID-19.

Founded in 2012, the company said it has raised over $200 million till date.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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Whoop raises $100 mln, valuing the fitness tracker startup at $1.2 bln

Oct 28 (Reuters) – Fitness tracker startup Whoop said on Wednesday it raised $100 million in Series E funding from investors including venture capital firm IVP and SoftBank Vision Fund 2, valuing the company at $1.2 billion.

Popular athletes like 10-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, Super Bowl MVPs Patrick Mahomes and Eli Manning, among others, also participated in the funding round, the company said in a statement here.

Boston-based Whoop said it would primarily use the new funds for product and software development, global expansion and membership services.

Whoop also offers a monthly subscription for round-the-clock health monitoring through a free fitness band it provides with the membership.

The company’s tracker is the fitness band of choice for a host of pro-athletes. The PGA Tour had bought 1,000 Whoop bands for players, caddies and media covering the golf tournament.

Whoop founder Will Ahmed said customers were increasingly using the technology to measure their respiratory rate, which is a key statistic for understanding COVID-19.

Founded in 2012, the company said it has raised over $200 million till date.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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Fitness Startup Lets Trainers Work From Home

The team at Moxie had big plans for 2020. It was going to be the year that the on-demand fitness platform broke into the technology categories of blockchain and micro-transactions. Then February and COVID-19 happened, and self-described serial entrepreneur Jason Goldberg went into crisis mode. It wasn’t a new business model pivot he was after – it was complete reinvention.

“It became clear in February that the business we wanted to launch was not going to launch this year,” Goldberg told PYMNTS. “And so we decided we could either just wait it out and see what happened over the next 18 to 24 months, or we could build something that people need right now. And it took about a week for us to agree that we were just going to pivot the entire business and go all in on building something the people needed right now. We asked ourselves what we were going to miss the most during the pandemic. We saw there was an opportunity in fitness, because people were working out at home and couldn’t take classes with their favorite instructor. We saw an opportunity both from the instructor standpoint and from the fitness fanatic standpoint.”

Moxie launches today (Tuesday) after spending the summer and fall in beta. Goldberg likes to call it the Airbnb of fitness. More formally, it is a hybrid fitness site for instructors to reach clients, both new and existing. And it’s a site where fitness enthusiasts can find subscriptions for monthly or weekly live classes, all streamed directly on its platform. Subscribers also get access to the video recordings, which can be streamed on Moxie’s site, as well as music clearances, playlists and CRM functionality for the instructors to manage their clients. During the beta phase, Goldberg says there were more than 6,500 classes available, and more than 10,000 individual sessions were live-streamed. The site has also signed up more than 2,000 instructors.

At its core, Moxie has provided independent instructors with a place to set up shop, regardless of whether they were previously teaching at Equinox, Planet Fitness or Yoga Works. The platform has essentially enabled fitness instructors to become entrepreneurs, and Goldberg says it has shifted the economic model. Pre-pandemic, a fitness instructor would show up at a studio and – depending on where in the U.S. she was living – would make between $25 and $75 per class at most, with the balance of the fee going to the studio or gym. In the Moxie model, the instructor keeps 85 percent of the revenue.

“Imagine this,” Goldberg said. “It’s January. Group fitness has been the fastest-growing sector in the fitness industry for the last decade. Every day you’re hustling, busting your butt teaching these classes because you love what you do. You love helping people. But the fitness studio did all the work for administration and payment. And then imagine, suddenly COVID hits and you’re laid off, or you’re furloughed, or you’re told

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Former Windows chief Terry Myerson is building a health care data startup called Truveta



Terry Myerson smiling for the camera


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Terry Myerson

A Seattle-area startup called Truveta made its existence known for the first time on Thursday, describing an ambitious vision to use data to save lives through new innovations in patient care and therapies.

The company’s CEO is Terry Myerson, a former Microsoft executive who led the company’s Windows and Devices Group before departing in 2018 after a 21-year career at the tech giant.

Truveta has already hired nearly 20 people, including some of Myerson’s former colleagues from the Redmond company, and it has enough open positions to double the size of the team.

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The company joins a growing number of startups and tech giants seeking to use data to transform health care. It also follows a trend of tech industry veterans seeking to apply their technical expertise to big problems in health, often learning that the challenges are even bigger than they imagined.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our world, loved ones, and daily lives, the opportunity to apply data in the development of breakthrough health solutions has never been clearer,” Myerson wrote in a post introducing the company on Thursday morning. “We will pursue this vision in close collaboration with health systems, life science researchers, physicians, and others in the health community.”

He promised a strong focus on privacy: “We know health data is unlike other data. It is the very definition of personal. While we embark on our pursuit to generate knowledge and insights to improve diagnoses and treatments, we know we must do so with the utmost caution to protect the privacy of the people we ultimately seek to serve: patients.”

The company declined to go into detail about its plans, origins, ownership, or funding, but public records offer some hints about its collaborations.

A trademark filing links the startup’s name to Providence Health & Services, the large health care system based in Washington state, which has been spinning out a series of health care startups in recent years. Providence also runs a $300 million venture capital fund that invests in early-to-mid-stage healthcare companies.

Wasif Rasheed, the Providence senior vice president and head of corporate development, is listed as one of the governing members of Truveta in Washington state corporations records. Truveta’s address in its state filings is the same as Providence’s office in Renton, Wash.

Responding to an inquiry from GeekWire, a Providence spokesperson acknowledged that the health system is working with Truveta, without providing specifics on their relationship.

“At Providence, we are focused on accelerating transformation across health care, driving quality, affordability and a better experience for health care organizations, providers and patients,” the spokesperson said via email. “Truveta’s vision is to contribute meaningfully to breakthroughs in research, treatments, and therapies. We are in the early stages of collaborating and will share more information in the near future.”

Others listed as governing members of Truveta include Dr. Bobbie Byrne, chief information officer at AdvocateAuroraHealth, based in Illinois and Wisconsin; Marcus Shipley, senior vice president and

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