Why Thrive Global Is Acquiring Boundless Mind

To address the rise of chronic diseases and our mental health crisis, we need technology that helps change human behavior and build healthy habits.

Arianna Huffington with Boundless Mind’s Joe Maloney, Jake Dodd, Dalton Combs and Matt Mayberry.
Arianna Huffington with Boundless Mind’s Joe Maloney, Jake Dodd, Dalton Combs and Matt Mayberry.

I’m thrilled to announce that today Thrive Global has completed the acquisition of the neuroscience-based artificial intelligence company Boundless Mind. 

I have been obsessed with Boundless since I first came across them on 60 Minutes two and a half years ago (when they were known as Dopamine Labs). I loved the fact that they were using the same technology designed to hook people to social media and gaming to instead unhook us, and help drive us to more healthy habits. I know it sounds paradoxical, but the truth here is paradoxical. We’ll never be able to change behavior at scale if we don’t use all of the tools in our toolkit, including the most cutting-edge technology.

Boundless is the expert in behavior change AI. Their algorithms and reinforcement systems have already been used to get people to walk more, accomplish more from their to-do lists and increase engagement with diet and exercise apps. Now they’ll be used exclusively to power Thrive Global’s behavior change platform, supercharging our products with the ability to target the right Microstep to the right user at the right time, and ensuring that our users are fueled by intrinsic motivation to make better choices and form healthy habits.

We are at a crossroads in our relationship with technology — and the advent of artificial intelligence is only accelerating the urgency to put humanity at the center. We will have technology that either augments our humanity or undermines it. We’re also at a crossroads when it comes to health: we need to move beyond disease care to a world where we go upstream, with preventive, behavior-based interventions that help individuals around the world live healthier and more productive lives. 

The stakes are too high not to move as quickly as we can. As Dalton Combs, the CEO and co-founder of Boundless and now Thrive Global’s Head of Behavioral Science put it, “one-hundred years ago most people died from infectious diseases. But today, it’s our behaviors that are killing us.” Seventy-five percent of our health care spending goes toward the treatment of lifestyle-related preventable conditions, like heart disease and diabetes — and when you include mental health, it goes up to 90 percent. Nearly 150 million Americans are living with at least one chronic condition, and according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, seven out of 10 deaths in the U.S. are attributable to chronic disease. Depression diagnoses are now up 47 percent among millennials, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among children, teens and young adults between ages 10 and 34. 

That’s why I founded Thrive: to help people around the world form more healthy habits through Microsteps, ending the stress and burnout epidemic and helping individuals and organizations unlock their full potential. Our Thrive behavior change platform already brings our customers and partners the best of Thrive’s Microsteps, behavior change content and immersive storytelling with inspiring new role models of success that help accelerate the cultural shift. By integrating Boundless, we will now be able to leverage AI and machine learning to make our recommendations more personalized, targeted and effective. 

Together with Boundless, we can bring the best of both data and wisdom — the mind and the heart — combining cutting-edge AI and data-driven feedback loops with the power of storytelling and community to truly drive sustainable behavior change for individuals and organizations around the world.

As Jake Dodd, Boundless’s CTO and now Thrive Global’s co-CTO says, “AI-enhanced humans aren’t a futuristic fantasy. We have the technology to do that today, and it’s all around us. Our phones and our watches, our cars and even our thermostats — when paired with AI, these everyday objects can form a distributed cognition, all working to help you be the person you want to be. Until now, this capability has been foisted upon us almost solely by advertisers and their publishers, with a singular goal in mind: to sell you more stuff. But people have begun to wake up to this new reality, demanding that behavior change technology must work for their well-being, not for their dollars. Thrive and Boundless, separately but with the same ethos, made meeting this demand their core mission from the first day of their founding.”

With Boundless’s technology, we’ll be able to pull the same psychological levers of desire that the fashion and entertainment industries use to empower people to make changes to their lives that are good for their physical and mental well-being.  

As Matt Mayberry, Boundless COO and now Thrive’s VP of Growth, says, “Our inability to change our behavior causes enormous unnecessary suffering. We have unlimited options for where to put our attention, but it’s never been harder to put it where it’s best for our health and happiness.”

As we approach Thrive’s third birthday next month, we are more committed than ever to developing technology that augments our humanity. The Boundless acquisition furthers that foundational commitment and will help us scale healthy behavior change to millions of users around the world. By bringing Thrive and Boundless together, we’ll ensure that we’re directing our users’ attention towards making the daily choices that are truly best for them. Together, we’re supercharging health and productivity with the best in behavior change AI and a culture shift fueled by science, storytelling and new role models to create a world where individuals and companies can truly thrive — and I can’t wait to show you what we build together.

Subscribe here for my Weekly Thoughts Newsletter, where you’ll find my take on the week’s news, my favorite pieces on how we can thrive even in our stressful world, and some fun and inspiring extras. 

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