Prince Harry gets job at San Francisco-based mental health firm Better Up

Prince Harry has got his first job in business as an executive at a Silicon Valley start-up that claims to be worth $1.73billion – where he will promote an app used by corporate giants including Hilton, Facebook and oil giant Chevron to improve the mental health of their staff.

The Duke of Sussex was unveiled as the Chief Impact Officer at BetterUp, whose CEO Alexi Robichaux has declined to say how much the royal will be paid, but similar roles at other California firms would command six or seven-figure salaries.

Harry, who has served in the British Army but has no corporate experience, will not manage any employees but will be expected to appear at special company events and spend time at the company’s San Francisco for meetings once Covid restrictions are lifted.

The prince, who says he has been using BetterUp’s app since January, began talks with them about a role last Autumn after being introduced to USC graduate Mr Robichaux ‘through a mutual friend’.

BetterUp employs therapists and executive coaches on contracts, who are paired with clients to provide mental health coaching by video link through the app. Most of its clients are in the United States, but it does have executive coaches employed in the UK.

The tech firm that works with corporate giants including Facebook, Google, Snap Inc, NASA, Hilton and Warner Brothers. There will be some raised eyebrows because Harry has spoken widely on the need to protect the environment, but BetterUp has also worked with oil giant Chevron.

Explaining why he has taken the job, Harry told the Wall Street Journal in a suitably corporate response: ‘I intend to help create impact in people’s lives. Proactive coaching provides endless possibilities for personal development, increased awareness, and an all-round better life’.

He added: ‘This is about acknowledging that it isn’t so much what is wrong with us, but more about what has happened to us over the course of life. Often because of societal barriers, financial difficulty, or stigma, too many people aren’t able to focus on their mental health until they’re forced to. I want us to move away from the idea that you have to feel broken before reaching out for help’.  

The company’s boss Alexi Robichaux says that Harry is an ideal fit for this latest ‘meaty role’. The business, founded in 2013, sells its app and services to big businesses with more than 10,000 employees, who can tap into a network of 2,000-plus life coaches whose aim is to help improve their happiness at work and at home, the company says. 

Facebook and LinkedIn are paying for expensive on-the-clock ‘coaching’, where their workers can hold virtual meets with therapists to help them cope better with stress and set goals to achieve in their jobs.

MailOnline understands that Google offered leadership coaching to staff through Better Up in 2020. Access to the app, including virtual classes, costs $3,600 per person for 12 months membership.

The Duke of Sussex was unveiled on Tuesday morning as the chief impact officer at BetterUp with this corporate black and white photograph of Harry released at the same time

The Duke of Sussex was unveiled on Tuesday morning as the chief impact officer at BetterUp with this corporate black and white photograph of Harry released at the same time

The Duke of Sussex was unveiled on Tuesday morning as the chief impact officer at BetterUp with this corporate black and white photograph of Harry released at the same time.

A statement on the company's website said: 'Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex is a humanitarian, military veteran, mental wellness advocate, and environmentalist'

A statement on the company's website said: 'Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex is a humanitarian, military veteran, mental wellness advocate, and environmentalist'

A statement on the company’s website said: ‘Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex is a humanitarian, military veteran, mental wellness advocate, and environmentalist’

Harry was introduced to CEO Alexi Robichaux (far left) through a mutual friend. He has refused to say how much Harry will be paid. Harry is listed on the company website with Mr Robichaux's co-founder, Eduardo Medina

Harry was introduced to CEO Alexi Robichaux (far left) through a mutual friend. He has refused to say how much Harry will be paid. Harry is listed on the company website with Mr Robichaux's co-founder, Eduardo Medina

Harry was introduced to CEO Alexi Robichaux (far left) through a mutual friend. He has refused to say how much Harry will be paid. Harry is listed on the company website with Mr Robichaux’s co-founder, Eduardo Medina

Harry is joining tech startup that claims to be worth $1.7bn after just seven years in business – but have Harry and Meghan invested?

Prince Harry is joining a billion dollar Silicon Valley start-up firm which works for big tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Airbnb and LinkedIn.

BetterUp, which started in 2013, claims to be ‘pioneering growth for the whole person’ and works with 300 companies which also include Hilton, NASA, Chevron and Mars.

The San Francisco-based company provides mobile-based coaching, counseling and mentorship programs for employees of large businesses.

The Duke of Sussex will be among 2,000 other coaches globally, which the company claims is the ‘world’s largest coaching network’.

A bizarre list of values on BetterUp’s website including: ‘courage, playfulness, empathy, craftspersonship, grit and zest.

Below each subheading respectively is: ‘Dare often and greatly, great ideas come from health and happiness, innovation starts with understanding, find meaning in what we do through crafting excellence, perseverance driven by determination and passion and what sets you apart makes us unique.’ 

It said its customer base grew by 80 per cent and annual recurring revenue more than doubled last year.

Workers meet with BetterUp staff – licensed therapists and executive coaches – virtually to work on their employee skills.

They are also told they can shout about being tired, relationship issues, bad managers and other problems they have on their mind. 

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BetterUp claimed in February it raised $125million, taking its valuation to $1.73 billion.

The investment round was led by ICONIQ Growth, along with existing investor Lightspeed Venture Partners among others, and new investors including Salesforce Ventures and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Capital.

They have reportedly raised $300million in total from venture capitalists, but are yet to report any results, 

A statement on the company’s website said: ‘Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex is a humanitarian, military veteran, mental wellness advocate, and environmentalist.

‘As co-founder of Archewell, he is focused on driving systemic change across all communities through non-profit work as well as creative activations.

‘The mission across Archewell—which currently includes Archewell Foundation, Archewell Productions, and Archewell Audio—is united behind the deeply held belief that compassion is the defining cultural force of the 21st century.

‘Prince Harry has dedicated his life’s work to advancing causes that he is passionate about.

‘He is the Founder of The Invictus Games, a platform for wounded, injured and sick service personnel to use sport as part of their rehabilitation, as well as Travalyst, a non-profit entity comprised of several of the largest online travel agencies in the world.

‘Additionally, he co-founded Sentebale with his dear friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, in memory of their mothers’ charitable work in combating the HIV crisis, and serves as President of African Parks, a non-governmental organization focused on protecting Africa’s ecosystems in partnership with local communities and governments.’  

The role will see the Duke weigh in on product strategy, charitable contributions and speak about mental health.

He will not be in charge of other workers or handle reports directly, but will go to San Francisco to work when Covid is over.

His latest title is rare, with few corporate companies having such positions. It is more often used at nonprofit firms.

BetterUp CEO Alexi Robichaux, who met Harry through a friend last year, said: ‘It’s a meaningful and meaty role.’

Since it was founded seven years ago, it has built a network of 2,000 coaches and has 270 other employees. The company says it is worth $1.7billion because of it has 100,000 corporate members. 

Harry, who has served in the British Army but has no corporate experience, will not manage any employees but will be expected to appear at special company events and spend time at the company's San Francisco for meetings once Covid restrictions are lifted (pictured)

Harry, who has served in the British Army but has no corporate experience, will not manage any employees but will be expected to appear at special company events and spend time at the company's San Francisco for meetings once Covid restrictions are lifted (pictured)

Harry, who has served in the British Army but has no corporate experience, will not manage any employees but will be expected to appear at special company events and spend time at the company’s San Francisco for meetings once Covid restrictions are lifted (pictured)

Harry’s told Oprah that he has been forced to seek corporate work after his father Prince Charles 'cut him off' financially after they emigrated to Canada and then on to LA

Harry’s told Oprah that he has been forced to seek corporate work after his father Prince Charles 'cut him off' financially after they emigrated to Canada and then on to LA

Harry’s told Oprah that he has been forced to seek corporate work after his father Prince Charles ‘cut him off’ financially after they emigrated to Canada and then on to LA

How BetterUp founder started selling lemonade before developing app to keep millennials happy in their jobs

BetterUp’s co-founder Alexi Robichaux was born in Dallas, Texas, but grew up in California, selling lemonade and knick-knacks off a stand.  

But by 15 he learnt how to program and created a web development business with his brother.

The CEO wants his app to move on from being a perk to more of a health package like medical insurance at companies.

He said: ‘Millennials are the first generation to unashamedly come to the conclusion, ”If work is taking more of my time, then it should be contributing more to my human fulfillment. It’s only fair, right?’

He has revealed in previous interviews his father was a ‘biblical linguist who works with ancient texts’, while his mother is a Greek immigrant who was forced to go back to work to raise her family.

He studied political science at the University of Southern California and graduated summa cum laude in 2007.

After university he worked for the Walt Disney Company in business insight and improvement, before leaving after a year and five months.

He moved to a management consulting firm advising leading companies in private equity, venture capital, entertainment and technology industries, where he was a partner and CFO.

From here, the businessman moved to Socialcast, which was bought out by VMware, and he become the director of product management.

Robichaux stayed there for just over a year before he broke away and set up BetterUp.

His LinkedIn page, which says his firm is hiring, adds: ‘BetterUp is on a mission to help people everywhere pursue their lives with greater purpose, passion, and clarity.

‘As the creator and leader of AI-enabled video coaching and positive behavior-based platforms, BetterUp has delivered personalized coaching and care across organizations big and small, resulting in improved performance and transformation at all levels.

‘Simply put, people, teams, and companies are more resilient, more productive, and less stressed with BetterUp (even in times like these). And we’re just getting started.’

Robichaux’s company uses a app-based system for workers to swipe through coaches to find the one they want – in a similar format to Tinder.

There are therapists and psychologists for customers to chose from depending on their needs.

Employees can then video call them or speak over text on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the contract.

In some cases the staff will proscribe external sites for customers to use, such as the Headspace meditation app.

Once every three months the firm sends out a questionnaire to customers, to get them to track their focus, problem solving, influence, ‘mental agility’ and ‘presence’.

It claims to have a 95 per cent satisfaction rate, but this could not be verified.  

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It says that that need for more executive coaching, and virtual sessions because of lockdown, has further improved its position in the market.  

The businessman would not be drawn on how much the Duke will earn and did not reveal details of his employment. 

The new job came just over a fortnight after the Sussexes’ bombshell interview with Oprah, where Harry said he was persuaded to sign multi-million dollar deals with Netflix and Spotify when he was ‘literally cut off financially’ from the Royal Family.

The Duke of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that shortly after he and the duchess announced their wish to step back as senior members of the Royal family and spend time overseas, he stopped receiving income from palace.

Harry added that, had it not been for money left for him by his late mother, Princess Diana, he would have been unable to pay for security to protect his family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex raised eyebrows when they announced in September a deal worth an estimated £75million to make programmes for streaming giant Netflix, despite citing a lack of privacy as one reason for quitting the Royal Family.

In December, the couple announced a second high-profile partnership – this time a multi-year deal with global audio streaming behemoth Spotify.

The deal, which experts estimated could be worth around £18million, will see Harry and Meghan make and host a number of podcasts for Spotify’s 320million monthly active users on a variety of subjects to help listeners ‘connect to one another without distraction.’

Asked about the lucrative partnerships during the interview, Harry told Miss Winfrey that they were ‘never part of the plan’ but instead were suggested by a ‘friend’ when they feared financial issues.

‘My family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford, afford security, for us,’ he said.

‘But I’ve got what my mum left me, and, without that, we would not have been able to do this.’

He added of the issues he has faced in recent years: ‘I think she saw it coming.’

Prior to stepping back from royal duties in December 2019, Prince Harry received the vast majority of his income from the Duchy of Cornwall, a portfolio of property and financial investments managed by his father, Prince Charles. For the financial year 2018/19 this was more than £5million. It is believed Prince Charles, who initially continued to fund the couple, withdrew financial support from the Duchy last year when it became clear their move to the US was permanent.

About 5 per cent of the couple’s income came from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant.

However after their decision became public, Buckingham Palace announced the couple would no longer receive public money.

The Home Office also funded the couple’s Metropolitan Police security detail, however this was withdrawn when they permanently relocated, leaving the couple to foot the bill for their own security at an estimated £4million-a-year.

Last year, the couple paid back the £2.4million cost of refurbishing Frogmore Cottage after it was initially covered by the taxpayer, as well as taking on a £7.5million mortgage on their California home.

Harry was left about £6.5million when his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997. It is thought to have matured to around £10million by the time of his 30th birthday.

Asked by Miss Winfrey about the perception that the couple could be seen as ‘money-grabbing royals,’ Harry said: ‘We’re certainly not complaining. Our life is great now.’

He added that ‘all I needed was enough money to be able to pay for security to keep my family safe.’

The couple have set up their own company, Archewell, which encompasses a not-for-profit enterprise as well as their production companies for audio and video content.

It aims to drive ‘systemic cultural change across all communities, one act of compassion at a time.’

Last year, the duchess took on one of her first major media engagements since stepping back as a senior royal, narrating a Disney nature documentary about elephants.

Link hienalouca.com

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