Between emails, social media accounts, calls, text messages, WhatsApp, and more, our smartphones have become ticking bombs, gradually turning us (and our children) into co-dependent, digital junkies. Media mogul Arianna Huffington is seeking a solution to this invasive addiction, and announced today that through her startup, Thrive Global, she is launching a new kind of app with Samsung to help individuals set boundaries with technology.
“[The idea for the Thrive app] came from my experience, but, really, it’s everybody’s experience,” wrote Huffington, in an email to VentureBeat. “We’re all addicted. We all feel it. We’re being controlled by something we should be controlling. It consumes our attention and cripples our ability to focus, think, be present, and connect with ourselves and others. So the idea was to come up with an app that would put people back in control of their time and their technology.”
The Thrive app, which is free, provides tools that help individuals to effectively monitor their mobile use. Features include Thrive Mode, which blocks all apps, notifications, calls, and texts, except from the people on your VIP list; Auto Reply, which lets others know you are taking time away from your phone; and App Blocking, which lets you set boundaries with the apps you choose. Once the users reach their limit for a particular app, they won’t be able to access it until 12 a.m. the next day.
Thrive is available in Samsung’s Galaxy Apps store for the Note8, and will be available on additional Galaxy models soon, according to a statement.
When asked why Samsung and not, say, Apple, Huffington replied: “Marc Mathieu, Samsung’s [chief marketing officer] and I have been friends for many years and we have been talking a lot about how to help people strike a better balance with their use of technology,” she wrote. “Also, Samsung’s recognition that the next frontier in tech is human-focused technology that enhances our humanity makes them a natural partner,” she added.
The app’s launch was originally scheduled for December 15, but was pushed a month to the new year, post-CES, “when people are still looking at new year’s resolutions and the positive changes they want to bring about in their lives,” wrote Huffington.
Thrive competes with other well-being and meditation apps like Space, Headspace, and Calm.
Thrive Global was founded in August 2016 in New York City, garnering considerable interest since its launch. It has raised a total of $41.5 million to date, from investors that include Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), Marc Benioff, Greycroft Partners, Female Founders Fund, and Sean Parker.
The startup is now hiring for dozens of roles to grow its team of 40, and just launched its first international branch, Thrive Global India.
Thrive Global’s main source of revenue is its corporate training partnerships, with companies that include Accenture, JPMorgan, and Alibaba. Uber is also a partner (Huffington sits on that company’s board).
When asked whether Uber is implementing a healthier and more inclusive work environment, Huffington said: “Uber has made tremendous progress in creating a much more equitable and sustainable environment for all its employees.”