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BCCL’s Times Bridge bets on US-based meditation startup Headspace
Richard Pierson

Headspace Inc., which runs an online meditation and mental health platform, has raised $93 million (approximately Rs 664.51 crore at current exchange rates) in mixed equity and debt funding round.

The equity portion of the Series C round, comprising $53 million, was led by Blisce, the US-based growth stage venture firm. Others that participated in the round include Waverley Capital and Times Bridge, the investments and partnerships arm of Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd’s Times Group.

Existing investors The Chernin Group, Spectrum Equity and Advancit Capital also participated in the round, Headspace said in a statement.

California-based Headspace has secured the remaining $40 million in the form of debt capital from US-based Pacific Western Bank, a commercial institution.

The startup says it will use the funds to boost its direct-to-consumer business, enhance its business-to-business segment, Headspace for Work and accelerate its growth in international markets.

Rishi Jaitly, CEO at Times Bridge, said the investment arm of the Times Group was confident in its bet because of Headspace’s core product focus. He added that its rapid growth was proof of the company’s credibility and influence, particularly when it comes to the scientific work that has been an integral part of the business.

Headspace, which was founded in 2010 by Richard Pierson and Andy Puddicombe, is known for its consumer-facing application and online service. It claims to have one of the largest research pipelines in the digital health space, with over 70 clinical studies conducted with institutions such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of California.

The company has over two million paid subscribers for its service, and more than 600 corporate customers through its B2B division, including Starbucks, Adobe, Hyatt and General Electric (GE). Headspace’s biggest competitor in its space is Calm, which last raised $88 million in February last year. Investors in Calm include TPG Growth, Insight Venture Partners and Sound Ventures.

BCCL, Times Bridge and its investments

The bet on Headspace is another feather in the cap for Times Bridge, which concentrates on a more traditional global venture capital approach to investments for BCCL’s Times Group. The Indian media giant also operates Brand Capital, its ad-for-equity arm, and Times Internet Lt., its digital-focused consumer platform.

Times Bridge’s portfolio includes international companies such as hospitality and lodging platform Airbnb, online learning platform Coursera, The Weather Channel, mobility company Uber, and music service Smule.

The privately-held BCCL – which also owns properties such as The Economic Times and The Times of India – has through its investment made aggressive moves in recent months. In October last year, the TIL-owned over-the-top (OTT) platform raised $110.8 million (around Rs 786.59 crore) in a funding round led by Chinese technology giant Tencent.

Another service, the music-streaming platform Gaana, raised $115 million (around Rs 748 crore) in February 2018. That round was also led by Tencent. Other properties in TIL’s portfolio include cricket news portal Cricbuzz, restaurant reservation platform Dineout, personal finance platform ET Money.

As for Brand Capital, it is India’s top PE and VC-style investor, according to a 2017 VCCircle analysis. Since 2005, Times Group has picked up equity stakes in about 1,000 companies for a total of around $4 billion. Currently, it manages a portfolio of about 415 companies. In a recent interaction with VCCircle, Brand Capital CEO Sam Subramanian said that the company aims to seal at least two transactions a week and that the size of the transactions is growing.

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