It’s another Tampa Bay success story: Tampa-based Peerfit, who refer to themselves as a corporate wellness platform, have been acquired by FitOn, the mobile health and fitness app known for its exercise classes led by celebrities.
Peerfit have been growing in leaps and bounds, amassing customers and funding, including a $10 million round in January 2020 that was led by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and NoCal-based Virgo Investment Group. Peerfit connects employers to fitness and wellness services, acting as a provider for companies that provide wellness benefits — they’re currently used by 13,000 employers. CEO Ed Buckley will remain in charge of Peerfit, and their team (about 50 people, according to Tampa Bay Business Journal) all plan to stay on.
FitOn’s story is one of a good product that had great timing. Launched in 2019, the app provides at-home workouts led by celebrities including Halle Berry, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Lindsay Vonn and Julianne Hough. When the pandemic forced gyms to close, their user base grew to over 10 million, and 80% of their users livestreamed workouts in 2020.
Is this a good thing for Peerfit? For the Tampa Bay scene?
My opinion is yes, and for now, I’ll keep my answers to bullet points:
- It’s good for Peerfit, part 1: When you create a business with “startup” ambitions (as opposed to having the goal of creating a so-called “lifestyle business”, a model that is unfairly mocked and deserves more respect), your goal is to exit. In general, there are three kinds of exits:
- You fail. This could be closing up shop, or getting acquired at a “clearance” price.
- You IPO. Typically, to do this, you first have to become a unicorn — a private company with a valuation of over $1 billion. Shareholders are generally ecstatic, and employees generally do really well. This is the least likely scenario; there are just over 1,000 of them in the world.
- You get acquired. Shareholders are generally pleased, and employees generally do pretty nicely. This is the most likely scenario, as 97% of exits are an M&A-type transaction. It’s also usually the best outcome for a small- to medium-sized startup, which is where Peerfit fits.
- It’s good for Peerfit, part 2: FitOn and Peerfit are complementary: one’s provides wherever-you-happen-to-be workouts, and the other provides fitness benefits to companies. FitOn provides capital, reach, and an app in the top 20 in the App Store, and with a 4.9 rating (from almost 230K ratings!). Peerfit can take the FitOn app to corporate customers.
- It’s good for the Tampa Bay tech scene: It takes more than evangelizing the benefits of choosing Tampa Bay as a place where you’ll live, work, and play to build our tech scene. That’s just telling. Telling helps, but we also need to show, and success stories such as Peerfit are exactly what we need.
Find out more
For more on the acquisition, see:
- Tampa Bay Business Journal: Peerfit, the Tampa wellness startup standout, gets bought by industry veteran
- Tampa Bay Times: Tampa health startup sells to celebrity-backed fitness app FitOn
- dot.LA: Fitness App FitOn Raises $40 Million, Buys Corporate Wellness Startup Peerfit
- TechCrunch: Fitness app FitOn raises $40M, acquires corporate wellness platform Peerfit