Posts tagged with "Sleep Stories"

Contest: Meditation app Calm seeks TikTok story narrator with the ‘smoothest voice’

May 10, 2022

Calm, a meditation and wellness app, is looking for a voice that puts people to sleep, reports CNBC.

And it’s hoping to find that voice on TikTok. The company recently posted a video on the social media platform announcing its Next Voice of Calm Contest, which will select the entrant with the most soothing voice to record one of Calm’s upcoming 60-second Sleep Stories. The winner also will receive $5,000.

“We’re looking for TikTok’s smoothest voice,” Erik Braa, one of Calm’s current Sleep Story narrators, intones in the video.

To enter, interested participants need to post a 60-second or less TikTok stitched to Calm’s contest announcement video. In your minute-long entry, you can read aloud basically anything: “A grocery list, your last text or a made-up story,” Braa says. “As long as it’s original and oh-so-soothing.”

More than 350 million people have listened to Calm’s Sleep Stories, according to the company, making this a potentially huge opportunity for the winner. Other Sleep Stories on Calm’s platform have been narrated by celebrities like Harry Styles, Pink. and LeBron James.

Like many mental health apps, Calm experienced an influx of new users during the pandemic: It was the world’s most downloaded app in April 2020, with nearly 4 million downloads globally that month, according to intelligence firm Sensory Tower. Calm attained a $2 billion valuation in December 2020, following a $75 million fundraising round.

More recently, the global mental health app industry as a whole—which was valued at $4.2 billion last year, according to a Grand View Research report—has come under fire for not actually improving the mental wellbeing of most users. A January study published in PLOS Digital Health, a healthcare research platform, found there was no “convincing evidence in support of any mobile phone-based intervention.”

But according to Calm, its Sleep Stories might actually work. In an October 2021 study conducted by Jennifer Huberty, the company’s director of science, a majority of participants reported that “using Calm helped them fall asleep, stay asleep and get restful sleep.” Most of those participants struggled with sleep disturbances, and nearly half had a mental health diagnosis, according to the study.

Other mental health app critics have raised ethical concerns around how mental health and meditation apps share user information: One study, published in the journal Internet Interventions in 2019, found those less than 50% of apps targeting depression had any privacy policy.

The privacy policy on Calm’s website states that it collects personal user information from inside its app and third-party platforms. Calm did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

The Next Voice of Calm Contest closes on May 13, and the winner will be announced on June 7, with their Sleep Story anticipated to publish on Calm’s app this fall. Entrants are only allowed one submission each and must be at least 18 years old. They also must be legal residents and living in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Research contact: @CNBC

Ashton Kusher-backed Calm app is valued at $1B

February 7, 2019

Calm.com—the San Francisco-based startup that claims to have become the number-one app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation since it began doing business in 2017—has been valued at $1 billion in a funding round led by TPG Growth, the company announced on February 6.

According to Bloomberg, Calm raised $88 million in the round, which included existing investors Insight Venture Partners and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, as well as Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency.

The funding makes San Francisco-based Calm a major player in the wellness industry—or, as the company says, the World’s First Mental Health Unicorn. (It joins the ranks of 312 other U.S. startups that have been valued at $1 billion or more and are known as “unicorns.”)

The Calm website says that the app “helps users cope with some of the most important mental health issues of the modern age-including anxiety, stress, and insomnia.”  Among its popular features are:

  • The Daily Calm, a ten-minute meditation guided by the company’s Head of Mindfulness Tamara Levitt;
  • Sleep Stories, soothing bedtime tales for adults read by celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Stephen Fry, and Leona Lewis;
  • MasterClass: A series of audio classes taught by mindfulness experts; and
  • Music: Exclusive music to help users focus, relax, and sleep.

Companies such as mindfulness app Headspace and meditation wearable maker Muse have also raised money from VCs, although at lower valuations, Bloomberg reports.

“Our vision is to build one of the most valuable and meaningful brands of the 21st century,” co-founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer Michael Acton Smith said in a statement. His co-founder and co-CEO, Alex Tew, added that the company would prioritize spending on international growth and creating new content.

The app has been downloaded more than 40 million times, it said in a statement, and it has more than one million paying subscribers.

Research contact: @calm