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stridehealth.com

Founded Year

2014

Stage

Series C | Alive

Total Raised

$97.68M

Last Raised

$47M | 8 mos ago

About Stride Health

Stride Health is a health insurance recommendation engine. Stride Health quickly builds a health profile for each patient, then delivers a financial forecast for their "health year". Stride's algorithm then filters to find a recommendation with preferred doctors, prescription drugs, and even the clinical efficacy of all of the doctors included.

Stride Health Headquarter Location

501 2nd St Suite 120

San Francisco, California, 94017,

United States

415-930-9110

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Research containing Stride Health

Get data-driven expert analysis from the CB Insights Intelligence Unit.

CB Insights Intelligence Analysts have mentioned Stride Health in 4 CB Insights research briefs, most recently on Aug 31, 2020.

Expert Collections containing Stride Health

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Stride Health is included in 6 Expert Collections, including Gig Economy Value Chain.

G

Gig Economy Value Chain

155 items

Startups in this collection are leveraging technology to provide financial services and HR offerings to the gig economy industry

I

Insurtech

2,330 items

Companies and startups that use of technology to improve core and ancillary insurance operations. Companies in this collection are creating new product architectures, improving underwriting models, accelerating claims and creating a better customer experience

D

Digital Health 150

150 items

2019's cohort of the most promising digital health startups transforming the healthcare industry

F

Fintech

7,431 items

US-based companies

H

Health Plans & Benefits Management

717 items

Companies developing or offering digital platforms and services, including online insurance marketplaces, data analytics for claims adjustment, benefits administration, and payments systems, that help make private health insurance more affordable, navigable, or transparent.

D

Digital Health

13,070 items

Technologies, platforms, and systems that engage consumers for lifestyle, wellness, or health-related purposes; capture, store, or transmit health data; and/or support life science and clinical operations. (DiME, DTA, HealthXL, & NODE.Health)

Stride Health Patents

Stride Health has filed 1 patent.

patents chart

Application Date

Grant Date

Title

Related Topics

Status

3/9/2015

Health insurance, Health economics, Pharmaceuticals policy, Smoking, Pharmaceutical industry

Application

Application Date

3/9/2015

Grant Date

Title

Related Topics

Health insurance, Health economics, Pharmaceuticals policy, Smoking, Pharmaceutical industry

Status

Application

Latest Stride Health News

Is China killing its social commerce golden goose?

Jan 8, 2022

No. But Beijing makes sure livestreamers are in check. Viya, 36, was one of the most celebrated influencers in China. It took one day for her to disappear from the public view. Screenshot: Protocol January 8, 2022 For five years, Viya was the face of China’s $363-billion livestreaming sector. She was a billionaire with a powerful social commerce empire and emerged to become a political icon. Until suddenly, just days before Christmas, she became a national subject of scorn: The top Chinese ecommerce influencer was fined a whopping $210 million for tax evasion, and her online presence was completely erased. The downfall of China’s livestreaming queen signals Beijing’s determination to play catch-up in regulating the booming live ecommerce sector that not only is shaping China’s digital economy but also is defining the global live ecommerce landscape. Beijing routinely cracks down on tax evasion by celebrities to keep industries in line. The fine imposed on Viya, however, was higher than any previous fines on high-profile entertainers. Given Chinese authorities’ year-long strikes against ecommerce, online education and gaming throughout 2021, many observers wondered: Is Beijing killing the live commerce golden goose? The short answer is: No. Livestreaming sales not only have become an integral part of ecommerce, but also are now economically critical to China’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors. But the impact is still widespread. Since Viya’s success is emblematic of Chinese ecommerce giants’ growing commercial power and social influence, “this severe punishment reinforces authorities' stance of reining in the disorder, [or] barbaric growth in the online ecosystem,” Xiaomeng Lu, a director in Eurasia Group's geo-technology practice, told Protocol. Taobao, a subsidiary of ecommerce giant Alibaba, first introduced live commerce in 2016. The innovative approach to sales now accounts for more than 30% of China's entire ecommerce business — while the figure for the United States is only 3% . The streamers play a critical role, linking consumers and suppliers. Many of them live broadcast for hours uninterrupted, entertaining hundreds of thousands of viewers while selling heavily discounted products in real time. Since 2016, Viya has emerged to become a strong sales force and one of the sector’s most celebrated entertainers. In 2020, she sold $31 billion worth of goods, including a rocket-launch service , on her livestream show. This was an annual gross transaction volume larger than that of the most profitable shopping mall in China. Her exponential success in the live commerce sector earned her not just wealth but also social and political prominence. With a net worth of $1.25 billion, she ranked among China's wealthiest 500 individuals in 2021. And the state promoted her to a public figure who embodied virtues of a self-made female entrepreneur. Looking back, however, Viya’s fall from stardom was not entirely unexpected. About a month before Viya was named and shamed, two other less-prominent live commerce influencers, Zhu Chenhui and Lin Shanshan, together were fined $15 million for tax evasion. Last September, the State Administration of Taxation encouraged livestreaming influencers to self-report and “timely correct tax-related problems” by the end of 2021 to avoid harsh punishment. The notice had prompted more than 1,000 influencers to pay back taxes, according to state news agency Xinhua. But Viya failed to see which way the wind was blowing. Though the mega-fine on one of the most high-profile Chinese influencers caught insiders as well as observers off guard, experts don’t think Beijing’s move means reversing the broader industry trend favoring the livestreaming sales model. Viya’s stellar commercial and political ascendancy collided with Beijing’s pursuit of policies to stimulate the rural Chinese economy with ecommerce, modernizing agriculture and digitizing traditional manufacturing. Her abilities to promote agriculture products from far-flung regions made her a quasi-ambassador for the industry’s "poverty alleviation” agenda. Last October, she won a prestigious National Poverty Alleviation Award for helping sell farm products on her platform. “Livestreaming sales is here to stay and will continue to grow,” said Xiaofei Han, who researches social commerce in China at Carleton University. “It has tremendous economic potential … It drives spending and generates employment, but the state is going to standardize industry practices to ensure its long-term, healthy growth.” An unintended consequence of subjecting dominant influencers like Viya to deep regulatory scrutiny could be redirecting traffic and businesses to less-prominent influencers, experts say. But the change may take a while to materialize. Viya’s tax evasion enraged the public, which has been keenly critical of individuals and companies accumulating tremendous power and wealth since Ant Financial’s IPO fiasco in late 2020. “It takes a long time for influencers to build trust with their followers, “Han said. After Viya’s descendancy, “it could take an equally long time for her colleagues to regain public trust in their business practices.” Bitcoin users are vulnerable. January 7, 2022 Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron ) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com. January 7, 2022 The story of an art gallery owner who had $2.2 million worth of Bored Ape Yacht Club and other NFTs stolen is just the latest example of crypto theft, illustrating the vulnerability of buyers as a broader set of consumers venture into the field. With NFTs, the issue has grown in importance as the market has transformed from a niche hobby to an active market filled with speculators and investors. Todd Kramer of New York’s Ross+Kramer gallery fell victim to a phishing scam in late December, according to a now-deleted tweet. He stored his NFTs using an internet-connected hot wallet — a less secure method — and a thief made off with 15 digital tokens worth $2.2 million. Hot or cold Phishing scams are common in the crypto world . While these are also common across the internet, targeting everything from work credentials to credit-card numbers, in crypto they are especially popular because once a user's crypto is stolen, transactions are nearly impossible to reverse. OpenSea , the most popular NFT marketplace by far, doesn’t keep custody of tokens for users. Consumers are responsible for storing their own NFTs. Many crypto developers and enthusiasts see self-custody as part of the technology’s ethos. A crypto buyer has total control of their assets. That also makes them easier to steal. After a user clicks on a phishing link, how NFTs are stored becomes a critical question. If they’re kept in an internet-connected hot wallet, an option many prefer for its simplicity and the ease of trading assets kept online, the hacker can easily get access. Hot wallets can be standalone software applications, online accounts maintained by an exchange or even simple browser extensions like the popular MetaMask. There are typically few ways to remedy a breach or insure against losses, though Lloyd’s offers a crypto wallet policy . Coinbase insures its accounts for up to $250,000, but it doesn’t cover a breach of users’ account credentials. OpenSea blocked the sale of the stolen NFTs, but acknowledged that it couldn’t prevent the NFTs from being transferred off of its marketplace. Phishing the crypto sea There are many variations on the phishing scam. One used Google Ads to get access to people’s crypto through Metamask. In May, MetaMask warned of a phishing scam that looks like a Google Docs form from MetaMask support that asks for a user’s wallet recovery phrase, which can grant a hacker access. Hardware wallets, also known as cold storage, are one way that crypto holders attempt to protect themselves from hackers. These involve a hardware device that holds the user’s private key offline so that it can’t be accessed even if a hacker gets access to a browser or other device. But as the Kramer case shows, many users, even those with millions of dollars worth of NFTs, don’t bother with hardware wallets. They’re more complicated and can slow things down when trading. Discord in the ranks An emerging vector for crypto attacks is through the Discord app. Many crypto projects use Discord for discussion and organizing work, and some are designed to build community among owners of NFTs. These groups are often open for anyone to join. Hackers often go into these Discord groups trying to get people to click links or give up private keys or other information. Justin Kan’s new project Fractal was the victim of this kind of attack, in which almost 400 people were scammed. The growth in the NFT market seems to guarantee more incidents of theft and scams. A recent report from Chainalysis found $14 billion in criminal crypto transactions in 2021, up from $7.8 billion in 2020. That’s a very small slice of the overall market, which saw $15.8 trillion in crypto transactions last year, Chainalysis researchers pointed out, but it’s still a huge opportunity for hackers. Besides better insurance policies and improved security, one market opportunity that’s emerging is hardware wallets. Ledger, a maker of hardware wallets , raised $380 million in June, valuing the company at $1.5 billion. And Block, Square’s parent company, has announced plans to make hardware wallets among its other crypto initiatives. Keep ReadingShow less Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron ) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com. January 5, 2022 December 22, 2021 Getting sick is something all of us try to avoid, but for millions of Americans, their health is their wealth. Yet we all get ill from time to time — and access to health insurance is a safety net to avoid unforeseen surprises that can send personal finances into a tailspin. However, health insurance has long been the privilege of the permanently employed. “Seventy years ago, it was a post-World War II system that gave a bunch of tax benefits to employers for creating and delivering guaranteed benefits to their employees,” said Noah Lang, co-founder and CEO of Stride Health, a health insurance and benefits platform for individuals. “We’ve been living in that post-World War II era benefits system where you go to your job, your employer picks your health plan and that implicitly picks the doctor and prescription drugs that you can choose.” Today, that employer-sponsored insurance model supports 157 million people across the country. It’s often front and center in businesses’ offer to potential employees: the security and sanctity of knowing if something goes wrong medically in your life, it’ll be financially covered. But the world of work no longer works like that. 59 million Americans work outside the traditional employer benefit system, according to Lang — and more and more are moving away from that model as the gig economy grows. “People, during the pandemic, are taking a step back and thinking about the traditional job setting and asking: ‘Is this what I want to do?’” said Chiro Aikat, executive vice president of North America Product and Engineering at Mastercard. “That’s driving growth in the gig economy.” As the world of work has changed, barriers have been thrown up to exclude part-time, independent and gig-economy workers. “Even though Americans are getting more flexibility in terms of employment, they’re losing some of the benefits traditional employment would bring,” said Aikat. All of which makes some think twice before making the great leap into gig work and freedom from employers. The surety of health insurance is keeping people in work situations they otherwise wouldn’t tolerate. One in three workers who receive health insurance through their employer would be very or somewhat likely to quit if their insurance disappeared.1 A shift in the way health insurance and benefits are handled has helped free workers from unfavorable working conditions and unlocked opportunity for the millions of gig workers entering the labor market. In October 2020, Mastercard and Stride Health partnered to bring portable benefits to gig and independent workers. It meant that leaving your job no longer meant leaving behind your health insurance. It allowed people to pursue their dreams of setting up their own business, or go it alone and dictate their own terms of work, without worrying about the consequences if they fell ill. “Anyone in any ZIP code in the country can access the coverage,” said Lang. “It doesn't matter how healthy or sick you are.” “To me it is empowering these workers, where they now are in control. They have the ability to make the decision they want.” Today, gig and freelance workers make up 34% of the US workforce — a number expected to continue to rise year-over-year.2 The pandemic has been an accelerant in that shift toward more independent work: One in eight of the U.S. workforce freelanced for the first time in 2020. By 2028, 90 million Americans will work independently, and they’ll need the flexibility of benefits that work for them, not just the company that employed them.3 The new world of work is being shaped in front of our eyes, and options such as the plans offered through the Affordable Care Act mean individuals can decouple their coverage from their employers, taking their benefits and insurance from job to job, wherever they work. “Most people don't know that they can get real, full health insurance for such a low cost,” said Lang. “After a colorful resume of job choices these last few years that didn’t pan out like I’d hoped, I felt that it was finally time to focus on creating a path to be my own boss and in a way that I could financially support myself,” said Amber Huyghe, a gig worker who works in delivery and is a member of Stride Health. “The biggest drawback and also the crossroads I faced with myself was not having health care.” But Stride Health’s plans offered her low-cost insurance that fit her health needs. “The weekly frustrations will happen with any job; however, the solution to my health care dilemma created a space of more certainty that I was able to stay on the path a little longer at a job that gives me so much joy and freedom.” That’s the goal for uncoupling benefits from employment. “It gives them the flexibility to have two or three jobs, but because they themselves have them independently, they can have access to those benefits wherever they go,” said Aikat. “It's about how you support that set of consumers so that they continue to drive benefits for society, not only for them and their own family, but also so they can continue to drive a positive impact to the economy.” For gig workers, decoupling health insurance from employers means that the delivery driver and part-time barista can rest assured that their portable benefits move with them to whichever job they’re on at the time. For independent workers, it gives them peace of mind that they’re not second-class citizens in comparison to their full-time, contracted counterparts. And for part-time employees picking up an extra paycheck through a side hustle, it provides benefits that are often walled off from them unless they commit to full-time work. “To me it is empowering these workers, where they now are in control,” said Aikat. “They have the ability to make the decision they want.” It’s a radical new update to a 70-year-old system, and it’s one that gives assurance to the new cavalcade of gig workers at a time of great uncertainty. “People want the flexibility, and it's a new way of work,” said Lang. “Oftentimes, they're earning more, and someone's got to protect them. But there’s still been that gap. And I think it's a long-term public and private sector problem to be solved — one which we hope we’re well on our way to achieving.” 1Policygenius Health Insurance Literacy Survey 2021 2International Labor Organization 13 million citizens cannot get supplies and food from online marketplaces like Taobao and JD.com Photo: Liu Xiao/Xinhua via Getty Images January 7, 2022 January 7, 2022 China’s massive ecommerce scene has become not only the poster child for China’s booming tech industry, but also is increasingly shaping the global ecommerce industry. But the powerful ecommerce ecosystem that started germinating during the 2003 SARS outbreak and enjoyed exponential growth in 2020 is kaput in the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an, which is now on strict lockdown. Xi’an is currently battling the largest COVID-19 outbreak in China since the initial 2020 wave in Wuhan. The city known for terracotta warriors has reported more than 1,600 COVID cases since the beginning of December. Though the number pales in comparison with the massive surge of COVID cases elsewhere in the world, Xi’an, the capital city of northwestern China’s Shaanxi province, has adopted a zero-COVID policy. The city’s 13 million residents have been under quarantine since Dec. 22, the most strict measure taken since Wuhan. On Chinese social media, ample personal accounts from Xi’an residents complain that there have been serious shortages of supplies and deliveries of groceries since the lockdown. China has a robust logistics ecosystem; residents in major cities like Xi’an can, during normal times, get online orders delivered to their doorsteps in as little as an hour. But this time, locals in Xi’an said they have not been able to receive orders from large Chinese online marketplaces such as JD.com and Taobao for days after purchasing. The delays this time are not caused by a lack of supplies, but by a shortage of delivery workers. A screenshot of a JD.com purchase progress shared with Protocol by a Xi’an resident shows the estimated delivery date for an order he placed on Dec. 21 as Jan. 15. Multiple transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported from JD.com’s logistics center in Xi’an at the beginning of the lockdown, and the compound was under strict confinement, according to local newspaper Huashang Daily. “I told my JD delivery guy that he could finally get some rest,” the Xi’an resident told Protocol. But locals say other apps, such as Alibaba’s Taobao and its e-grocer Hema, are not in service most of the time, either. The Xi’an resident told Protocol that many Taobao sellers currently are not shipping anything to Xi’an. The person, who asked not to be identified, said the situation grew significantly worse after Dec. 27, when the city stepped up the quarantine measures and confined everyone to their homes. “We’ve all been confined in our apartments since the 27th,” he said. “Delivery workers are no exception; they can’t get out, either.” Alibaba’s official Weibo accounts indicate its ecommerce platforms have not suspended services in Xi’an, but Hema’s Weibo account did explain its delivery manpower has been significantly limited due to the COVID outbreak. China’s 7 million delivery workers, often dubbed as riders, are a ubiquitous sight in urban areas. In Xi’an and in many other cities, they live in so-called urban villages, segments of major Chinese cities home to migrant workers and the poor. Xi’an-based investigative reporter Jiang Xue wrote in her quarantine diary that a delivery worker she met at one urban village told her he couldn’t afford quarantine hotel costs at his hometown, Baoji, a city 100 miles from Xi’an, so he chose to stay in Xi’an even knowing the city was going under lockdown. But the delivery worker, surnamed Liu, was too late to return to his rented apartment in Shajing, an urban village with thousands of residents, on the day the municipal government ordered the lockdown. Locked out of Shajing, Liu had to share a hotel room with other delivery workers, while his already-meager income diminished further as the lockdown measures were tightened. With the commercial ecommerce logistics system coming to a standstill, the people who are handling the deliveries of foods and supplies for Xi’an’s 13 million residents are workers of local residential communities, the lowest level of governance that enforces Party mandates and maintains social order. Jiang, the reporter, wrote that she finally snagged her first box of groceries on the last day of 2021 — through her neighborhood WeChat group, not delivered by government officials. Video clips of residential community workers sending food to Xi’an residents have circulated widely online, but Jiang said she still wasn’t expecting a delivery of groceries from the government anytime soon. “The city’s entire logistics system is on pause,” Jiang wrote in her diary. “How could 13 million residents of the city possibly count on just community workers and volunteers for groceries deliveries?” In her diary, Jiang quoted a popular WeChat article where one of her fellow Xi’an citizens expressed their frustration: “We have such powerful logistics systems like Tmall and JD.com, why doesn't the government make use of them? Why do they think they are capable of delivering groceries themselves?" From Your Site Articles He's turning Automattic into a different kind of tech giant. But can he take on the trillion-dollar walled gardens and give the internet back to the people? Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic and founder of WordPress, poses for Protocol at his home in Houston, Texas. Photo: Arturo Olmos for Protocol December 22, 2021 December 21, 2021 In the early days of the pandemic, Matt Mullenweg didn't move to a compound in Hawaii, bug out to a bunker in New Zealand or head to Miami and start shilling for crypto. No, in the early days of the pandemic, Mullenweg bought an RV. He drove it all over the country, bouncing between Houston and San Francisco and Jackson Hole with plenty of stops in national parks. In between, he started doing some tinkering. The tinkering is a part-time gig: Most of Mullenweg’s time is spent as CEO of Automattic, one of the web’s largest platforms. It’s best known as the company that runs WordPress.com, the hosted version of the blogging platform that powers about 43% of the websites on the internet. Since WordPress is open-source software, no company technically owns it, but Automattic provides tools and services and oversees most of the WordPress-powered internet. It’s also the owner of the booming ecommerce platform WooCommerce, Day One, the analytics tool Parse.ly and the podcast app Pocket Casts. Oh, and Tumblr. And Simplenote. And many others. That makes Mullenweg one of the most powerful CEOs in tech, and one of the most important voices in the debate over the future of the internet. But before we get to that, you have to hear about this RV. "I really love networking equipment," he said, in an effort to explain the story he’s about to tell. He's always been the guy who goes over to friends' houses and upgrades their router or just rewires the whole system: "So when I get this RV, what I ended up doing was I set up a multiple-cell phone modem router." It connects to all three major U.S. carriers and combines them into a single Wi-Fi network. Suddenly, when Mullenweg signed on every morning to do his job as CEO of Automattic, one of the web's largest platforms and most powerful influences, he could do it from anywhere with a cell signal: like one time, last December, when he recorded a Web Summit panel from the side of Highway 97 in Northern California as logging trucks went by. Mullenweg, who is also an insatiable gearhead, had a solution for the truck noise, too: a Sennheiser headset mic with awesome noise-cancellation. The setup is ever-changing. "What we recently figured out was how to mount a Starlink on top," Mullenweg said. His SpaceX-built satellite internet receiver plugs right in and provides even faster speeds. "You can't drive around with it, and I think it's geo-locked to just the Wyoming region," but with two minutes of setup his RV gets broadband-quality internet. "And," Mullenweg said, already planning his next upgrade, "SpaceX has announced they're going to do a mobile version, so whenever that comes, I'll redo the whole thing. It'll be nice not to have to mount and dismount, and it'll work when I'm moving." From his always-connected RV, Mullenweg has continued to turn Automattic into a tech giant. He talks often about his desire to build "the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet," a holding company populated with the most ambitious and important products and services in tech. But there is one thing that binds the many products under the Automattic umbrella together: a bet on and belief in the open web and open-source software. In every way that matters, Automattic is a reflection of Mullenweg (you could say he puts the “Matt” in Automattic). He started building web software because he wanted a place to store and share his photos; he’s a blogger to the core, and loves anything that aids in the free expression of ideas on the internet. He loves jazz, which is why WordPress releases are named for jazz musicians. He loves to read and write and work from anywhere, so he turned Automattic into a company that supports bloggers and promotes remote work. He buys companies that make products he likes, and companies that have missions he believes in. Most of all, he believes that open-source software is the future of everything. And he’s betting on it every way he can. Eighteen years after he first started working on WordPress, Automattic is more powerful than ever. It’s a $7.5 billion company, one of the biggest private companies in the industry. And yet its founding idea — that software should be available to everyone and editable by anyone, that communities can build great things together, that walled gardens always eventually fall — seems more tenuous than ever. There’s another 17-year-old company named Facebook that flies in the face of everything Mullenweg believes in, and is threatening to own the future of the internet. Most people will tell you it feels like the future of tech hangs in the balance. But the way Mullenweg sees it, open is still going to win. It's not a matter of if, only when. And all he's trying to do is help make it happen a little faster. The builder If you were in San Francisco in the early days of the Web2 era, circa 2005, there’s a good chance you have a Matt Mullenweg story. Maybe a 21-year-old Mullenweg personally upgraded your WordPress installation at one of his “upgrade parties,” which he used to throw at his San Francisco apartment. Maybe you went to one of his Christmas ugly sweater parties. Or maybe you went to one of the countless Meetup events, at which Mullenweg would extol the virtues of WordPress, open source and blogging. Nearly everyone who knew Mullenweg in those days remembers the same three things: He looked like a kid, he was extremely nice and he had ridiculously big ideas. “WordPress, people knew,” said Scott Beale, the founder of Laughing Squid and a friend of Mullenweg since those early days. “And then you meet the guy, and it's like, he's so nice. No real ego, he’s ready to talk to anyone.” “I had just started using WordPress,” said Om Malik, a blogger and venture capitalist, as well as a longtime friend and mentor to Mullenweg, “and I got in touch with Matt. I had no idea who he was, or how young he was at the time.” Malik would send Mullenweg long emails every time he ran into trouble with WordPress, and Mullenweg would always help. Eventually, “Matt and I just became friends,” Malik said. “We would talk about the internet, the open internet.” Even now, he added, “I only talk to him about technology. We never talk about business.” A young Matt Mullenweg (second from left) at a WordPress meetup in 2005. Mullenweg had started WordPress two years earlier, alongside co-founder Mike Little, as a fork of software called b2/cafelog that Mullenweg noticed had been more or less abandoned by its creator. At that point, Mullenweg wasn’t trying to start a conglomerate; he was just trying to keep his blog online. He liked the idea that b2/cafelog was available through a General Public License, meaning anyone could fork and change the code and no one could take it away. “The work would never be lost,” Mullenweg wrote on his blog as he pondered making the move, “as if I fell [off] the face of the planet a year from now, whatever code I made would be free to the world, and if someone else wanted to pick it up they could.” A few months later, that fork had a name — WordPress — and was released to the public. Even early on, Mullenweg used to tell people he wanted to work on WordPress for the rest of his career. He’d moved from Houston and taken a job at CNET in part because the company was going to pay him to work on WordPress, but as the platform took off he wanted to focus on it even more. But turning WordPress into a hard-charging, VC-backed startup designed for a nine-figure exit didn’t really interest him. “He said, ‘If I ever started a company, I’d want it to be a company that can be alongside the open-source project, and I’d want to work on it for decades,’” said Toni Schneider, a former Yahoo executive who eventually became the first CEO of Automattic. Schneider didn’t really take Mullenweg seriously for a while; who believes a 21-year-old kid when he tells you his plans for the rest of his life? But Schneider quickly realized that Mullenweg really did see WordPress as his life’s work: in part because he found it interesting, knew it was a huge project and could see where it was headed, and in part because he saw WordPress as a tool through which to build a better internet. A better world, even. And he knew it might take a lifetime to pull it off. The thinker The first time Mullenweg and I spoke for this story, I asked him what he thought about the state of the tech industry. It was early September, and conversations were raging about antitrust, misinformation, surveillance capitalism, Big Tech’s overreach, Facebook’s effect on democracy and in general the society wrought by the tech industry. Before he answered, Mullenweg changed the frame of the question. This happened constantly in our conversations: I’d ask about Instagram or the iPhone, he’d respond with Plato or Camus. Once, when I asked him about Facebook, he responded with a story about the printing press. In this case, he simply urged me to think more broadly. “I don’t think you have to limit yourself to looking at technology,” he said. “Zoom out to human history, or look at the current state of the world, and look at the tension and the pendulum swing between freedom and authoritarianism.” That back and forth has always existed, he said, and to expect a bunch of companies to suddenly fix it is unrealistic. The cycle plays out the same in tech, he said. Take the internet: built as an open platform, eventually colonized by a handful of dictatorial players. To them, Mullenweg says: Congratulations on all your accomplishments, but you’ll lose in the end. “You get folks who want to ride that openness, but then close people off,” he said. “Like Facebook using your contact books or your email to bootstrap its growth, but then not allowing anyone to do the same on Facebook.” That can work, Mullenweg acknowledges. Sometimes really, really well. “But it also contains the seeds of its own demise.” Users inevitably begin to feel hemmed in and controlled by the closed platforms, and yearn for open pastures. Then they go build something better. Something open. “People's natural desire for freedom starts to get more and more of the best and brightest in the world working on open, distributed, decentralized systems.” The seeds of this change are already everywhere, he said. Tesla has open-sourced its patents in an effort to speed up innovation in electric vehicles, because as Elon Musk said, the company’s goal is not just to sell cars but “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.” There’s also the whole decentralized, Web3, blockchain community, which excites Mullenweg every time it comes up. “There’s an inevitable gravitational pull towards open source affecting literally every field: finance, health, politics,” he said. “All the things that currently happen in closed ways, what if they were open? What if they were transparent? What if you could copy and paste it? Do your own version? Remix it?” And then he offered the closest thing you’ll find to a Unified Theory of Matt Mullenweg. “As more and more of our lives start to be run and dictated by the technology we use, it's a human right to be able to see how that technology works and modify it. It’s as key to freedom as freedom of speech or freedom of religion. So that is what I plan to spend the rest of my life fighting for.” In his mind, WordPress isn’t just a blogging platform, and Automattic isn’t just a startup. Both are also statements of purpose, proof points of a worldview that says that quarterly results and year-over-year growth aren’t the only metrics that matter. (And that if you wait long enough, open wins at those, too.) Mullenweg has long traded hype cycles for the arc of history. And he hopes he can help bend it a little. The tycoon Let’s fast-forward a few years from those early days of WordPress to more recent history. By now WordPress is a behemoth. About 43% of websites on the internet run on WordPress’ open-source platform, which is maintained by thousands of contributors. Meanwhile, Automattic is running a thriving business selling services around the software. WooCommerce, a WordPress plug-in that Automattic acquired in 2015, has become a particular success story: It’s an open competitor to tools like Shopify or the Amazon Marketplace, and has become one of Automattic’s main growth and revenue engines. There are countless businesses run on top of WordPress, from theme makers to plug-in developers to hugely successful publishers and retailers. Because Automattic sees what happens on the platform, and because that platform is so large, it’s in a unique place to make educated bets on the future of the internet. Mullenweg became Automattic’s CEO in 2014, taking over the role from Schneider. Shortly thereafter, he launched the company into hyper-growth mode, and also got a crash course on how to run a business. “For me, the big transition was from coding every day to not coding every day,” he said. Schneider saw it the same way as he stepped down: “The product stuff kept going beautifully, but it took him a while to really ramp up on the business stuff and figure out: How do we organize this company in a way where each of these businesses can thrive?” But as he often does, Mullenweg learned to think bigger. “My big learning under Toni was that by changing code, I can affect that part of the program,” he said. “But [by] changing people, you can affect the world.” He came to love thinking about the architecture of Automattic and how to build a company with the same ideals and incentives as the community it came from. To sum up his style, Mullenweg offered a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of “The Little Prince.” (Because of course he did.) “He said, ‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.’” As Automattic has grown in size and scale, the company has more freedom to take on different kinds of projects. “I can build something from scratch with our 1,700 people,” Mullenweg said (Automattic's staff is actually closer to 1,900 now), “or we can partner with a company. We can make a minority investment, we can make a majority investment, we can make it a division of the company, we can make it fully integrated.” He said he’s always tried to keep Automattic nimble, ready to make big moves at the right moment but never conjuring a sense of panic or desperation. Even early on, Mullenweg used to tell people he wanted to work on WordPress for the rest of his career. Photo: Arturo Olmos for Protocol There have been a few misses over the years: Automattic was one of Slack’s first customers but didn’t invest in the company, and WordPress was an early supporter of bitcoin but never held any of it. Now, Mullenweg said, he’s in a position to jump on almost anything, as long as it feels right. This year, in the midst of a huge uptick in M&A and fundraising around the industry, a lot has felt right: By Mullenweg's own count, the WordPress community acquired 42 companies and products in 2021, eight of which were bought by Automattic itself. And even he's not sure that captures everything. Over time, Automattic also gained a reputation as a good investor or acquirer in part because it doesn’t have rigid structures into which it needs to put things. “Every other company we talked to was telling us about their plans and what they wanted to do,” said Russell Ivanovic, the CPO of Pocket Casts, which Automattic acquired in July. Automattic was different. “They said, ‘Look, this is why we think you should join our company, this is the freedom you’re going to get, this is the kind of organizational structure that we have.’” “Matt tends to attract people that are like him, who have that kind of product-led thesis and are a little bit more mission-driven,” said Deven Parekh, managing director at Insight Partners, which has invested several times in Automattic. “They aren't necessarily optimizing for the last dollar at the time they sell the company.” People like Paul Mayne, the founder of Day One, who said he wasn’t really looking for an exit but knew he’d be crazy to ignore Mullenweg’s advances. “It’s their openness,” he said when I asked why he thought Automattic was the right home for his company. “It’s all open source-based and long-term focused, and about writing and publishing. I felt like we shared values there.” To truly be a platform, it has to be open. Otherwise it’s more like a trap. There’s an underlying trend to many of Automattic’s recent acquisitions, a reflex to try to build or buy open alternatives to increasingly closed systems. As social media falls increasingly under Facebook’s watch, Automattic buys Tumblr; as Spotify moves to control more of the audio and podcast ecosystem, Automattic buys Pocket Casts. Parse.ly promises to be analytics minus the gross data practices; Day One promises top-notch encryption to keep your important memories and journal entries private forever. Every Automattic product is both a bet on the future and a subtle rebuke of the present. “I think it’s crucially important to have alternatives that are creator-focused, versus advertiser-focused,” Mullenweg said. “I guess part of this is wanting alternatives to advertising business models as well.” That means betting on subscriptions, like Tumblr’s new Post+ service. It means making it easy for creators to sell things directly through WooCommerce. It means lots of other things, too, eventually. And if that’s the plan, there are plenty of places left for Automattic to explore. “I would have loved to have Instapaper or Pocket,” Mullenweg said when the topic of reading apps came up. He’s a Pocket user now, and loves the app, but it’s owned by Mozilla. Which, of course, brings up the idea of web browsers; if you want to preserve user agency and power on the internet, the browser is a place to start. “I would be very, very interested in Mozilla,” Mullenweg said. “Or maybe, like, a Brave.” For these new companies, joining Automattic can feel a bit like being dropped into Mullenweg’s frontal cortex. It’s a completely remote company, for one thing. And because Mullenweg is a blogger at heart, you’re likely to spend most of your first few days at the company reading. Automattic — like Mullenweg — defaults to transparency and flat hierarchies. Employees are encouraged to write about their ideas even in their very earliest stages, and everyone around the company is encouraged to comment. (That meant, for instance, that Pocket Casts’ Ivanovic could read back through chat logs to see the conversation that led to its acquisition, including the parts where some employees thought it was a bad idea.) It can feel strange at first, but multiple founders I spoke with said they quickly came to appreciate the Automattic way of doing things. “They have some internal document that just says, ‘embrace the chaos,’” Ivanovic said. Mullenweg leads an executive team called “Bridge,” which operates as the connective tissue of the company. Most other teams are named after something random, like a bird or a mythological creature. The idea is for everyone to feel like they’re part of Automattic, not part of a company owned by Automattic. “It helps a team not be too attached to whatever they’re currently working on,” Mullenweg said. Ultimately, the mission matters most of all. The titan At this point, few companies have more influence over the way the internet works than Automattic. And few people not named Zuckerberg have more influence than Mullenweg. Beyond the whole “43% of the internet” thing, there’s the fact that both WordPress and Automattic basically belong to him. When Automattic sells shares to new investors, all the voting power goes back to Mullenweg. When he wants to push Automattic or WordPress in a new direction, he tries to do it as gently and collaboratively as possible, but one way or another he usually gets his way. Mullenweg generally tends to downplay this authority, noting that users can always fork WordPress and do their own thing, but there’s no question that where Mullenweg goes, the community — and the internet — follows. In general, Mullenweg is hardly the chest-beating pundit type, but friends and foes alike describe a killer lying just under the surface. His vitriol has historically been reserved for those who violate the spirit of open software and open systems: He has, for instance, angry-blogged at website-builder Wix several times over the years, most recently responding to a Wix ad campaign by calling its locked-in business model “like a roach motel where you can check in but never check out.” Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami didn’t respond to a request for comment, but did write a blog post of his own refuting many of Mullenweg’s claims. (Years ago, in response to another angry Mullenweg post, he wrote another : “Wow, dude I did not even know we were fighting.”) Anil Dash, the CEO of Glitch who used to run Six Apart and its blogging platform Movable Type, remembers Mullenweg capitalizing on every Six Apart mistake to grow WordPress. Dash said he doesn’t harbor a grudge, and in fact gives Mullenweg credit for having the right strategy at the right moment, but there’s one thing that nags at him. “I wish he’d had that energy for Zuck,” Dash said, “not the people he did.” You could argue — and some do — that in this moment of reckoning over the effect of technology on our lives and society, Mullenweg should be a much louder force for good. He’s not shy about his beliefs, but he isn’t arguing for them in front of Congress. He could have slapped a “Facebook is bad” banner across every WordPress site on the internet, and he didn’t. He hasn’t been loudly shouting about Facebook’s misinformation problem or decrying Google’s data-collection systems. Even on the product side, WordPress is well-positioned to take on Substack, YouTube and so many others. Multiple people told me Automattic is leaving billions on the table, and should be doing more to produce and promote open alternatives to the internet’s most important tools. Mullenweg's vitriol has historically been reserved for those who violate the spirit of open software and open systems. Photo: Arturo Olmos for Protocol The tech industry right now is riddled with villains and short of heroes, and Mullenweg fits the bill nicely. He’s got the quiet alter-ego thing down pat. So where’s the super suit? Mullenweg thinks about this for a minute. “I’m not sure where to start there.” Then, after a pause: “I do think you have to pick your battles, because you can’t fight all things at once.” He worries that changing Facebook and Google requires changing the ad-based business model of the internet, which is harder than it’s made out to be. But mostly, he thinks issues of data privacy and content moderation are big and complicated. “I have an appreciation for the challenge of moderation on Facebook,” he said. Yes, Facebook should be doing better. Of course. But Mullenweg seems more interested in solving problems than pointing fingers. “I really had to make a conscious effort to stay out of day-to-day things in the news,” he said, “just because there’s so much going on.” There’s just no hurrying Mullenweg, it seems. Even as the tech industry swirls around him, with regulatory fights and social media backlashes and the seemingly hourly shift in priorities, Mullenweg remains steadily on course. “We aspire to create the layer that every other application on the web can run on,” he said. “Hopefully one day, 85% or 90% of all websites have WordPress as their base layer.” Right now, the web operates largely on top of closed platforms owned by companies like Amazon and Facebook. “But to truly be a platform,” Mullenweg said, “it has to be open. Otherwise it’s more like a trap.” He plans to spend the rest of his career building the web’s one true platform, the open system the internet deserves. What exactly does that look like? Who knows. Mullenweg is increasingly fascinated by all things Web3 and crypto, and sees in that space much of the collaboration and community he loves about WordPress and open source in general. He proudly reminded me that WordPress.com began accepting bitcoin in 2012, and that Vitalik Buterin, who eventually created Ethereum, wrote about Automattic for Bitcoin Magazine the same year. "To me, what Web3 embodies is two essential ideas: decentralization and individual ownership," Mullenweg said at his recent annual State of the Word speech , where he updates the WordPress community on the year that passed. He preceded that by saying he didn't really know how to define Web3 at the moment — who does, really? — but supported the belief in an internet that anyone can help build, tweak to fit their own needs, and own themselves without paying rent to some large tech giant. He did issue a warning, though: "For every project which is asking for your money, dollars, for you to pay the cost of a house for a picture of an ape, you should ask: Does it apply the same freedoms which WordPress itself does? How closely does it apply to increasing your freedom and agency in the world?" The details do matter, to a point, but it’s not just about WordPress, and it’s definitely not just about Automattic. Those are just tools. For him, the lifelong work is about something much bigger than either one — bigger, even, than the tech industry. After we hung up our first Zoom call, Mullenweg sent me an email with the subject line “Freedom is central.” The body was a quote from Albert Camus, which worked as an explanation for just about everything Mullenweg believes in, fights for and plans to spend the rest of his life working on: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” The email was just that, Mullenweg’s name and three links to WordPress sites. What else do you need to know? Update: This story has been updated to better clarify the difference between Automattic, which runs WordPress.com, and the open-source WordPress software. Updated Dec. 21. Keep ReadingShow less

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  • When was Stride Health founded?

    Stride Health was founded in 2014.

  • Where is Stride Health's headquarters?

    Stride Health's headquarters is located at 501 2nd St Suite 120, San Francisco.

  • What is Stride Health's latest funding round?

    Stride Health's latest funding round is Series C.

  • How much did Stride Health raise?

    Stride Health raised a total of $97.68M.

  • Who are the investors of Stride Health?

    Investors of Stride Health include F-Prime Capital, Venrock, New Enterprise Associates, Moderne Ventures, Kevin Nazemi and 16 more.

  • Who are Stride Health's competitors?

    Competitors of Stride Health include Gravie and 2 more.

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