Prince Harry joins $1bn Silicon Valley startup as senior executive

 Duke of Sussex’s first formal role since ending royal duties involves ‘meaty role’ as chief impact officer at BetterUp

the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.
the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Prince Harry has been given a job by a $1bn (£730m) Silicon Valley startup which provides professional coaching, mental health advice and “immersive learning” as its chief impact officer.

The Duke of Sussex said he hoped to be able to “create impact in people’s lives” by working with BetterUp to provide “proactive coaching” for personal development, increased awareness and “an all-round better life”.

It is the Duke’s first formal position at a private company since he stepped down from being a working member of the royal family a year ago.

Harry and his wife, Meghan, have also signed multimillion-dollar deals to provide content for Spotify and Netflix.

As chief impact officer at BetterUp Prince Harry will be expected to help with product strategy decisions, charitable collaborations, and advise on topics related to mental health. Harry has already worked closely with mental health charities.

“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,” Harry told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the appointment.

“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.”

Alexi Robichaux, the chief executive of BetterUp, said: “It’s a meaningful and meaty role.”

The pair are said to have met through a mutual friend and have been discussing the collaboration since last autumn. Robichaux did not reveal how much Harry would be paid or whether he has been handed shares in the business.

“He’s synonymous with this approach of mental fitness and really investing in yourself,” Robichaux said. “It was not a hard internal sale.”

BetterUp, which was founded in 2013, recently raised $125m from an array of international investors to fund expansion. That new funding valued BetterUp at $1.7bn, making it a so-called “unicorn” – a new company valued at more than $1bn. It claims to employ 2,000 coaches and to have 300 business clients including Hilton, Nasa, Chevron and Mars.

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The firm, based in San Francisco, says it is focused on “changing the world by bringing the power of transformation to each and every person”. Its employees, it says, “are empowered to go above and beyond to reach their best self”.

Chief impact officers are a rare but increasingly popular position at startups and Silicon Valley firms. The position, which has been given the nickname “Chimpos”, usually carries responsibility for measuring sustainability, mental health and a company’s impact on wider society.

The Silicon Valley tech firm Salesforce was one of the first to introduce the position. It says it’s CIO is responsible for “driving positive social and environmental impact across our company, customers, partners and community, driving positive social and environmental impact across our company, customers, partners and community”.

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