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‘Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex’, lands a real job at Silicon Valley life-coaching firm

Harry has landed his first job since quitting as a royal.

He is to become an executive at a Silicon Valley life-coaching firm in a deal which could net him millions.

Harry has been appointed ‘chief impact officer’ for San Francisco-based start-up BetterUp Inc. As well as having a full say in ‘strategic’ decisions, the prince – who had vowed not to cash in on his royal credentials – will become a public face for the business. His photograph is already prominently displayed on the firm’s website alongside the words ‘Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex‘.

The firm’s founder has refused to say whether Harry is being paid a salary.

Industry insiders suggest he is more likely to have been given equity in the company, which is valued at up to £1.25billion, despite never having worked in the corporate world.

The new role comes on the back of lucrative deals for the Sussexes following their controversial move to California. They are making programmes and podcasts for media companies Netflix and Spotify, while Meghan has invested in a firm making ‘wellness lattes’.

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

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

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

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)

In a statement, Harry said he was excited to be joining BetterUp and proclaimed that he wanted to ‘lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations’. He added: ‘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.’

Harry, 36, who has spoken openly about his own mental health issues and how he sought professional help to cope with the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, told the Wall Street Journal that he had been using BetterUp’s app and a coach for several months.

The Wall Street Journal added: ‘The role is the latest foray into business for the duke who, with his wife, Meghan Markle, relinquished roles as full-time working members of the British monarchy and have tapped into their celebrity with a string of lucrative deals.’

It quoted Harry as saying: ‘I intend to help create impact in people’s lives.’

BetterUp chief executive Alexi Robichaux said he was introduced to Harry through a mutual friend and began to speak about the role with him last autumn. He insisted the prince’s appointment wasn’t just window dressing because of who he is, saying: ‘It’s a meaningful and meaty role.’

Prince Harry’s statement on the website of the company he joined

Harry’s statement on the BetterUp website … and how his royal title was displayed with a black and white photograph.

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.’ 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. When I first met Alexi [Robichaux], 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. I’ve personally found working with a BetterUp coach to be invaluable. 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.

The job of chief impact officer is rare in the corporate world but more common in charity sector, where it can command a salary of £80,000 upwards. However, the true worth of Harry’s deal could run into the tens of millions.

Mr Robichaux declined to tell the Wall Street Journal how Prince Harry would be compensated, or any details of his employment agreement, but said he would be joining the firm’s leadership team as an ‘officer of the corporation’.

The US newspaper made clear that the prince would not manage any employees, but is likely to spend time in the company’s San Francisco headquarters once it is safe to do so, and to participate in meetings. Significantly, Mr Robichaux said he is also expected to appear at special company events – indicating Harry will become a ‘face’ of the brand.

He admitted that the company had been attracted to the prince by his ‘prior advocacy work as a member of the Royal Family’, particularly in the arena of mental health, as well as his experience in the military, and argued that Harry ‘could bring a different perspective to the company’ as ‘he comes from a very different background’.

Highlighting his own mental health mantra, Harry said he wanted to encourage people not to feel embarrassed seeking help, adding: ‘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.’

Mr Robichaux said senior executives were keen to have Harry on board. ‘He will obviously have the whole organisation sprinting to help him,’ he said.

The company’s app – which includes virtual classes – costs £2,600 a year. There is also a network of more than 2,000 coaches. It has already been used by a number of large companies.

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. 

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.’ 

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

‘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.  

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.

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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