Entertainment

Better Up CEO Alexi Robichaux tells how he ‘crafted Chief Impact Officer role’ with Prince Harry


Prince Harry’s new right-on boss today revealed they spent months ‘crafting’ his first job together and praised his new royal employee’s ‘natural chemistry and synergy’ with him and his app branded a life coaching Tinder for millennials.

The Duke of Sussex has been appointed ‘chief impact officer’ at mental health services business BetterUp by CEO Alexi Robichaux, where he will help promote an app used by corporate giants including Hilton, Facebook and oil firm Chevron to improve the wellbeing of their staff.

Harry, whose new role at the firm could command a seven-figure salary plus share options, was introduced to the BetterUp co-founder through unnamed mutual friend last year, and after they weighed up ‘four buckets of opportunities’, they agreed to start working together, Mr Robichaux said today.    

The tech-CEO, who likes to quote Einstein and Marcus Aurelius and once gave a presentation on his business to leading scientists and academics while wearing a spacesuit, told Sky News today: ‘We were just so impressed, and really I think there was such a natural chemistry and synergy around the insights and the contributions he can make creatively to BetterUp in ensuring that we achieve our mission.

‘Bigger than commercial success, this is about global impact, and so as we crafted the role together, those four buckets of opportunities, we came to the title ‘chief impact officer’, really denoting that he’s focused on our mission and he’s focused on ensuring that we’re doing everything we can to achieve our mission on a bigger and larger and grander scale to impact the lives of more people.’

Speaking to the British press today, in a move that will have been sanctioned by Harry, Mr Robichaux added: ‘He’s also helping to work on everything from product design to product strategy, to co-creating content and the experience for our members and helping with partnerships, like creating some new content for our users related to mental toughness and mental fitness as well.’ 

Harry’s first real job will see him spending time at the firm’s San Francisco office – when Covid-19 allows – where the prince can take part in weekly office yoga sessions, beat a punch bag when he’s frustrated or pet the office dog ‘Gordo’ when he’s concerned about his ‘wellness’. He can also bring his dogs Guy and Pula to work if he likes.

BetterUp also throws regular onesie-fancy dress parties for staff, including at Halloween – but if this gets too much for the prince he can relax using some of his five ‘inner work’ days a year – on top of his holiday days – to focus on ‘personalised growth’ by hiking in California, reading books or doing volunteer work.

His new office has sofas to flop on during a hard day and games to play when staff need a break, with one employee, Lily, saying the office was designed for both work and play. She said: ‘When one of us is flourishing, the whole team gets stronger. So every decision we made about what to put in the office had those baselines in mind’. 

The Duke of Sussex has been appointed 'chief impact officer' at mental health services business BetterUp by CEO Alexi Robichaux, where he will help promote an app used by corporate giants including Hilton, Facebook and oil firm Chevron to improve the wellbeing of their staff.

The Duke of Sussex has been appointed ‘chief impact officer’ at mental health services business BetterUp by CEO Alexi Robichaux (right today), where he will help promote an app used by corporate giants including Hilton, Facebook and oil firm Chevron to improve the wellbeing of their staff.

When things get stressful, Harry can get his gym clothes out and roll out a mat for some yoga at a weekly session run by the company

When things get stressful, Harry can get his gym clothes out and roll out a mat for some yoga at a weekly session run by the company

Staff are treated to regular fancy dress parties, including ones where they drank beer and wine and dressed as unicorns and monkeys

Staff are treated to regular fancy dress parties, including ones where they drank beer and wine and dressed as unicorns and monkeys

Staff are treated to regular fancy dress parties, including ones where they drank beer and wine and dressed as unicorns and monkeys

Harry can pet the office dog 'Gordo' (pictured) when he's concerned about his 'wellness' and can also bring his dogs Guy and Pula to work if he likes

Harry can pet the office dog ‘Gordo’ (pictured) when he’s concerned about his ‘wellness’ and can also bring his dogs Guy and Pula to work if he likes

Inside the office: BetterUp's San Francisco offices include numerous sofas, exercise equipment and a punching bag

Inside the office: BetterUp’s San Francisco offices include numerous sofas, exercise equipment and a punching bag

There is plenty of room for Harry to flop on a sofa and chat to colleagues - but workers are also encouraged to take five 'inner work' days a year to wind down

There is plenty of room for Harry to flop on a sofa and chat to colleagues – but workers are also encouraged to take five ‘inner work’ days a year to wind down

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)

Silicon Valley start-up that has hired Prince Harry

What is BetterUp?

BetterUp describes itself as company that ‘combines coaching with dynamic and personalized digital experiences to accelerate members’ long-term professional development and drive personal growth’.

In practice, they sell executive coaching and therapy services to individuals and large companies.

It employs clinical therapists and ‘executive coaches’ on contract to provide those services. 

One blue chip company that recently employed their services was charged $2,000 for six months of unlimited coaching for each employee. 

Those who sign up for their app can receive one-to-one video therapy or coaching through the app.

Who was it founded by?

It was founded by two USC graduates Alexi Robichaux and Eduardo Medina. Robinchaux grew up in Dallas, Texas, and has described growing up with his father a biblical linguist who translates from Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. His mother is an immigrant from Greece who was an executive assistant at Texas Instruments. In high school he started a non-profit called Youth Leadership for America.

Medina is also a USC graduate who worked at management consultant companies Altamont Capital Partners and Bain & Company before starting BetterUp.

How big is BetterUp?

BetterUp says it has raised a total of $300m in venture capital, and claims to be valued at $1.7bn. It has not reported any corporate results or profits.

Last year, Robinchaux told Inc that the company had 200 employees and more than a thousand therapists and executive coaches on contract. 

Its investors include snowboarder Sean White, NBA player Pau Gasol and a series of venture capital companies including frims called ICONIQ Growth, Lightspeed Venture and Mubadala Capital. 

Who has invested in BetterUp?

The company lists 10 Silicon Valley venture capital companies among its investors, including the UAE sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Capital.

It also names Olympic snowboarder Shaun White and NBA player Pau Gasol as individual investors.

Prince Harry announced his first job in the corporate world yesterday by revealing he had taken an executive position at a Silicon Valley start-up that claims to be worth $1.7billion. 

Robichaux’s company uses a app-based system for workers to swipe through 2,000-plus life coaches to find the one they want – in a similar format to Tinder. 

The CEO, a devout Christian, said he had experimented with therapy and life coaching in his twenties and the idea for BetterUp came to him while on a pilgrimage of self-reflection to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. His mantra is: ‘I don’t believe technology is the enemy when used right.’

The company’s chief executive Mr Robichaux has declined to say how much the royal will be paid, although similar roles at other California firms would command six or seven-figure salaries.

PR guru Mark Bukowski told MailOnline it is yet another step for the Sussexes towards the building of their dream of a billion dollar brand in the US, after big money deals with Netflix and Spotify.

He said the deal is worth millions to the startup in free publicity, adding: ‘If he’s done a good deal with a salary as well as shares in the business, it will probably make millions for Harry too.’

Harry was introduced to Mr Robichaux through an unnamed mutual friend – and it is not yet known if he has invested in the company, where other backers include the Dubai sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Capital and Olympic snowboarder Shaun White. 

Executives who join American start-ups are often awarded large share options which can make them multi-millionaires when the company sells up or floats – regardless of whether they invest in the firm.

In a statement introducing himself to his new colleagues, Harry also revealed that every employee of his Archewell foundation will get access to its services.

Mr Robichaux said Harry has already helped make decisions at the business, including at a recent strategy meeting where he ‘recommended that executives frame the tool in terms of resilience and overcoming adversity and setbacks in a challenging time’. 

He added that the sixth-in-line to the British throne ‘comes from a very different background’ to his colleagues.

BetterUp is thought to charge companies about $2,000 (£1,450) per worker for six months of executive coaching, and has more than 200 employees and 2,000 contract coaches on its books. 

Mr Robichaux – who is in his 30s and grew up in Dallas, Texas, where his father was a biblical linguist father and his Greek immigrant mother worked for Texas Instruments – has compared the app to a life coaching Tinder for millennials to keep them happy at work.

He has spoken about his Christian beliefs and said the firm came to him as an epiphany while doing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain, and attended the University of Southern California (USC) along with co-founder Eduardo Medina.

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 firm’s San Francisco offices for meetings once Covid restrictions are lifted.

What does a chief impact officer do – and is Harry qualified?

Prince Harry’s new boss Alexi Robichaux has said he and the Duke of Sussex weighed up ‘four buckets of opportunities’ before agreeing to work together and call his new job ‘chief impact officer’ (CIO).

Although BetterUp say the role was created for the royal, similar jobs with the same title are becoming more common in Silicon Valley tech firms and laid-back Californian charities.

A CIO is a senior manager, who reports into the ceo. Their main job is to bring in money, by wooing investors, securing grants or donations from high-profile businesses or high-wealth individuals. They will also lead on events that could bring in cash and publicity, which BetterUp have said is part of Harry’s role.

According a recent job advert for a similar role in state capital Sacramento, the CIO must ‘be a leader within the Foundation and in the philanthropic, nonprofit, civic and social sectors in the region and beyond’. Harry’s high profile, charity work, especially the Invictus Games, would tick many boxes.

But there are some experience he may not qualify for, with employers generally looking for someone with 10 years corporate experience, where Harry has never had a job like this before, having spent several years in the Army.

The role also involves experience of budgeting and writing grant applications, which the prince is unlilkely to have. 

And bosses tend to want a Master’s degree in business or a related subject, or a bachelor’s degree with ‘significant and relevant work experience’ as a minimum.  

In June 2003, Harry completed his education at Eton with two A-Levels – achieving a grade B in art and D in geography. He dropped history of art after AS level.

One of Harry’s former teachers, Sarah Forsyth, later claimed that he was a “weak student” accused staff at the exclusive private school of helping him with exams and coursework. Both Eton and Harry denied the claims.  

The Prince went to Sandhurst after Eton. 

The Duke, 36, revealed he has been using BetterUp’s services including talking to one of its ‘truly awesome’ coaches for a couple of months who gave him ‘sound advice and a fresh perspective’.

He wrote in a blog post how he will focus on ‘driving advocacy and awareness for mental fitness’, helping to guide the firm’s ‘social mission and impact’, ‘influencing the vision of BetterUp’s platform, community and member experience’ and expand its ‘global community of thought leadership, coaches, customers, and members through outreach and strategic planning’.  

Explaining why he took 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’.  

Mr Bukowski added: ‘He’s got this woke job title of Chief Impact Officer and today’s announcement has done just that for the company, had a huge impact.

‘This announcement is worth millions to this startup in free publicity and if he’s done a good deal with a salary as well as shares in the business, it will probably make millions for Harry too.

‘He could never have done this deal if he was still a working member of the Royal Family. They’ve announced the job just after the Oprah interview, amid an outpouring of support for the couple in the US. They’re on a crest of a wave there. If the company is as good as Harry says, it is a smart move. But if it’s a pile of poop, he won’t have to many more chances to cash in.’

He added: ‘If people weren’t clear on Harry and Meghan’s business strategy, they should be now.’

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 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.

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

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.

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

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

The company's chief executive Alexi Robichaux has declined to say how much the royal will be paid

The company’s chief executive Alexi Robichaux has declined to say how much the royal will be paid

Eduardo Medina is also a USC graduate who worked at management consultant companies Altamont Capital Partners

Eduardo Medina is also a USC graduate who worked at management consultant companies Altamont Capital Partners

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

Better up: The $1.73bn ‘playful’ Silicon Valley start-up with Tinder-style app for users to swipe through 2,000 life coaches – set up by CEO who wants to ‘enable professionals to live with greater clarity, purpose and passion’

Prince Harry was introduced to CEO Alexi Robichaux (right) through a mutual friend

Prince Harry was introduced to CEO Alexi Robichaux (right) through a mutual friend

Prince Harry is joining a Silicon Valley start-up firm that claims to be worth $1.73bn and sells leadership coaching and therapy services.

It was founded in 2013 by two USC graduates and its clients include big tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Airbnb and LinkedIn as well as corporate giants including Hilton, NASA, Chevron and Mars.

The company has secured $300m in investment from venture capital firms and claims its services are ‘pioneering growth for the whole person’. The San Francisco-based company provides mobile-based coaching, counseling and mentorship programs for employees of large businesses.

The Duke of Sussex joins a ‘Chief Impact Officer’ and his colleagues will include more than 200 employees and 2,000 contract coaches globally, which the company claims is the ‘world’s largest coaching network’. A 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.’

BetterUp announced its latest investment round in February had raised $125million, which it says was based on a valuation of $1.73billion.

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.

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.

CEO Alexi Robichaux told Business Insider in 2017: ‘It’s about moving the needle in their personal life and their work life.’ He co-founded the firm in 2013 and has built it up so they can exclusively work with large firms with more than 10,000 workers. He said the idea to create the firm came to him as an epiphany while doing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain.

He said he realised it was pointless separating his work life in software from his personal life helping people.

BetterUp promises its clients including chief executives, managers and general employees confidentiality and the company’s idea is to coach ‘the whole person’ while the firm they work for pays for it. It is seen as a modern version of the ‘life coach’.

Robichaux said: ‘Most of working America thinks that the only coaching is life-coaching, which is like some dude in Alabama on Skype and you have no idea if he’s wearing pants.’

He said he gives his staff five paid ‘Inner Work Days’ a year in addition to their usual holiday time. The startup cofounder was born in Dallas, Texas, but grew up in California, selling lemonade and knick-knacks off a stand.

But by 15 in between playing soccer and student body president – he learnt how to program and created a web development business with his brother. He said he also enjoyed philosophy at school and would read ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli, Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract’ and Plato’s ‘Republic’ at the weekends.

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. He was introduced to CEO Alexi Robichaux (right) through a mutual friend. He has refused to say how much Harry will be paid

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 – aged 23 – he worked for the Walt Disney Company in business insight and improvement, before leaving after a year and five months when a senior started their own company and asked him to join. 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.’

Asked who he most admires, he told Medium: ‘I admire so many people, but I have to say I would put St. Paul up there. Along with Jesus. Religion aside, these men are some of the most influential leaders, objectively speaking, in world history — if not the most.’

He says his favourite quote is: ‘From the Bible: ”Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” I think it’s incredibly relevant and valuable in Silicon Valley right now.’

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. 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?’ 

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. 

BetterUp claimed in February it raised $125million in their latest round of fundraising, 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 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. 

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.

How Harry photographer Matt Sayles also took picture of Sussexes for Time100 series last year

LA photographer Matt Sayles has also photographed Beyonce

The picture of Prince Harry accompanying the announcement about him joining BetterUp was part of a set taken last year by photographer Matt Sayles.

Los Angeles-based Mr Sayles is believed to have taken the picture at the Sussexes’ £11million home in Montecito, California, last October.

Another frame also featuring Meghan Markle was first released that month to mark the couple’s special edition of TIME100 Talks.

And after Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey on March 7, Mr Sayles posted a picture of her an Instagram, writing: ‘Thank you Meghan. Thank you for your class, strength, and vulnerability. I was in awe watching last night and I stand with you like I know so many do. #internationalwomensday #istandwithmeghan’

Mr Sayles is a father to two boys – and describes himself on Instagram as a ‘black photographer and director’.

He started his professional photography career in college at Stanford after working at the Stanford Daily.

Mr Sayles then covered sports and news for the Associated Press where he initially freelanced before becoming a national entertainment photographer.

Among the celebrities he has photographed in recent years are Beyonce, Kanye West, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Ricky Gervais, Hilary Clinton and Kit Harington.

He has also specialised in photographing plus-sized models, with a recent series on the subject called Body Art which he described as his ‘most important project’.

Asked in an interview at the same time in July 2019 about how he captures the perfect image, Mr Sayles said: ‘I don’t worry about capturing the perfect image but rather capturing the perfect emotion or feeling. The image doesn’t have to perfect but as long as it carries the message that I am trying to convey.’ 

The photo of Harry for BetterUp is from the same set as this one also taken by Matt Sayles of the Sussexes for Time100 last year

The photo of Harry for BetterUp is from the same set as this one also taken by Matt Sayles of the Sussexes for Time100 last year

Prince Harry’s statement about why he’s joining BetterUp 

First of all, I am really excited to be joining the BetterUp team and community! Thanks for having me.

I firmly believe that focusing on and prioritising our mental fitness unlocks potential and opportunity that we never knew we had inside of us. As the Royal Marine Commandos say, ‘It’s a state of mind.’ We all have it in us.

Being attuned with your mind, and having a support structure around you, are critical to finding your own version of peak performance.

What I’ve learned in my own life is the power of transforming pain into purpose.

During my decade in the military, I learned that we don’t just need to build physical resilience, but also mental resilience. And in the years since, my understanding of what resilience means — and how we can build it — has been shaped by the thousands of people and experts I’ve been fortunate to meet and learn from.

When I first met Alexi, we instantly recognised a shared passion for helping others realise their full potential. As our conversations continued, it became even more clear that we hold a similar philosophy on mental health: that we must proactively take care of our minds.

In addition to this shared philosophy, what caught my attention about BetterUp was that the company’s mission to unlock the potential in people everywhere necessitates innovation, impact, and integrity. Their team has been delivering on that work for years. I was also impressed by the scale and opportunity for impact – the ability to change millions of people’s lives for the better, through a combination of human connection, leading technology, and behavioural science.

I’ve personally found working with a BetterUp coach to be invaluable. I was matched with a truly awesome coach who has given me sound advice and a fresh perspective. And because we believe in strengthening our own mental fitness, our entire Archewell team also has access to BetterUp coaching.

As BetterUp’s first Chief Impact Officer, my goal is to lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations. And my hope is to help people develop their inner strength, resilience, and confidence.

In this new role, I’ll be focused on four key areas:

  • Driving advocacy and awareness for mental fitness. We can and will elevate the global conversation around our mental health. What we’re doing is about equipping people to thrive. Whether you’re performing at the highest level, or want to get to the next level, or just want to get started, it’s all about having the specialised resources, preparation, and human connection to back you up — whatever the challenge.
  • Guiding BetterUp’s social mission and impact to bring the science of peak performance and human potential into the hands of people worldwide.
  • Influencing the vision of BetterUp’s platform, community, and member experience. I’m excited to help shape their already extensive library with content and resources on mental fitness and to share new stories and voices. To start, I’ve invited BetterUp to work with ‘Peak State: Mental Fitness’, a platform I helped establish which provides practical online tools to enhance our mental fitness.
  • Expanding BetterUp’s global community of thought leadership, coaches, customers, and members through outreach and strategic planning.

Self-optimisation is not about fixing something that’s broken. It’s about becoming the best version of ourselves, with whatever life throws at us — someone who is ready for the next challenge and can meet setbacks with courage, confidence, and self-awareness.

This is what BetterUp is making possible, and I look forward to being on this journey with you.

Join the community to get access to insights, advice, and tools on reaching your true potential, and be the first to learn about new content and programmes on mental fitness and resilience that I’ll be developing.

From a former NBA player and an Olympic snowboarder to billion-dollar venture capitalist firms, who are the investors in BetterUp?

NBA All-Star Pau Gasol

The 7 ft 1 in Spanish basketball player, 40, was in the NBA before moving back to his homeland to shoot hoops for FC Barcelona.

He is a big believer in investing in new technology for the sports industry to keep growing. He is worth £47million. He has written a guide for Better Up on how he keeps his mind in check while performing in top flight sports matches.

He listed: keep your head in the game, visualise your success, make mental health a priority, build a foundation of confidence from within and winning as a team.

NBA All-Star Pau Gasol is pictured earlier this month. 7 ft 1 in Spanish basketball player, 40, was in the NBA before moving back to his homeland to shoot hoops for FC Barcelona

NBA All-Star Pau Gasol is pictured earlier this month. 7 ft 1 in Spanish basketball player, 40, was in the NBA before moving back to his homeland to shoot hoops for FC Barcelona

He said of his time at the LA Lakers: ‘Practising mindfulness helped me get comfortable with uncertainty and keep my head in the game.

‘I’ve learned how to let go of the things that are outside of my control and focus on staying in flow.

‘Throughout the uncertainty of this past year, mindfulness has helped me stay focused on what’s important to me so I can get through the tough times.’

Olympic snowboarder Shaun White

American snowboarder Shaun White, 34, is one of the most decorated in his sport in the world, having three Olympic gold to his name.

He has another high-profile sports star to invest in Better Up, sacrificing some of his £43million fortune.

In a live virtual event with the firm he discussed reaching the top of his sport and how he continues to develop himself and ‘inspire millions of people globally’.

American snowboarder Shaun White (pictured on Sunday), 34, is one of the most decorated in his sport in the world, having three Olympic gold to his name

American snowboarder Shaun White (pictured on Sunday), 34, is one of the most decorated in his sport in the world, having three Olympic gold to his name

Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed Venture Partners is a global venture capital firm focusing on multi-stage investments in the enterprise technology, consumer, and health sectors.

It has a broad portfolio of more than 400 firms it has backed, including Snapchat, Affirm and MuleSoft.

The company – which has about £10billion in assets – invests across the world, including advisers in Silicon Valley, Israel, India, China, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

Threshold Ventures

Capital market company Threshold Ventures is based in Silicon Valley and says on its website it backs ‘disruptive companies across each threshold of transformative growth’.

The firm, founded in 1985 and has £16million in revenue, says it ‘aspires to be founders’ trusted partners and their first call when they come to a fork-in-the-road decision’.

It invests capital but says more importantly it invests itself in support of the companies it works with ‘because we believe that great companies are built by people’.

Plus Capital

Plus Capital proudly boasts it is the ‘only venture infrastructure trusted by elited artists, athletes and their teams to invest in’.

Based in Marina del Rey, California, the eight-year-old company says it is a ‘full-service venture advisory firm for celebrities’.

The firm’s LinkedIn page says: ‘We work with top-tier celebrities and their teams across entertainment, sports, and more to facilitate investments and equity-based partnerships in transformative businesses.

‘By placing our celebrities with top entrepreneurs and venture-backed companies, we can help accelerate growth through financial and/or sweat equity – turning celebrities’​ influence into financial returns.’

Salesforce Ventures

San Francisco-based Salesforce Ventures works with more than 400 companies in 24 countries across the world.

Earlier this month it reported a $2.17billion annual gain from its investments in other tech firms.

And then just days later it racked in more cash with another huge exit. Other gains were made last year when it sold its 2.8 million Zoom shares – which rocketed in price due to people’s reliance on it during the Covid crisis.

Sapphire Ventures

Sapphire Ventures is another Silicon Valley-based venture capital company that invests in tech firms.

Sapphire Ventures has invested in more than 130 companies across 10 countries and says it has ‘financed over 120 start-ups, including 23 IPOs and 42 acquisitions since 2011’.

The firm has total assets worth $5.7 billion.

Mubadala Capital

Mubadala Capital is based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and was only founded in 2011.

It started life as the financial investment arm of Mubadala Investment Company – one of the world’s leading sovereign wealth funds, with over $232 billion of assets.

It invests across the capital structure in both private and public securities, either directly or through third-party managed funds.

Its website says it ‘aims to maintain a well-diversified portfolio that generates superior risk-adjusted returns on behalf of its shareholder and investors’.

Freestyle Capital

San Francisco-based Freestyle Capital is a venture capital firm focused on early stage investments in technology, financial technology, media, telecommunications, internet software and consumer and web-based technology companies.

The firm was founded in 2009 by Josh Felser and Dave Samuel who started out by making angel investments with their own money.

Some of those investments include CoTweet, Get Satisfaction and CrowdFlower. In 2011, Freestyle announced a formal fund of $27 million. In 2012, SalesForce bought portfolio company GoInstant for more than $70 million.

Crosslink Capital

Leading early-stage venture capital firm Crosslink Capital is an asset management business that continues into the public equity market for fast-growing companies.

It has over $2billion in assets under management that it invests in consumer and enterprise businesses.

The San Francisco-based company was started in 1989 by Seymour Franklin Kaufman and Michael Joseph Stark.

Tenaya Capital

Tenaya Capital is another venture capital firm – but has offices in Portola Valley, California as well as Wellesley, Massachusetts.

It was founded in 1995 as Lehman Brothers Venture Partners, before Tenaya split to become an independent firm in 2009 following Lehman’s bankruptcy  

It has $1 billion of committed capital and currently has about $750 million under management.

 



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