The Calm app was downloaded 60 million times last year, with two new users joining almost every second. Despite this rapid growth, the company is staying Zen. After noticing in 2016 that many customers were listening to Calm in order to fall asleep, the company launched Sleep Stories: soporific bedtime tales for adults read by the likes of actors Matthew McConaughey and Stephen Fry and singer Leona Lewis. The feature has become so popular (last year it had more than 180 million listens from its 2 million subscribers, who pay $70 a year) that Calm expanded further into the $4.2 trillion global wellness industry, with self-improvement classes, stretching routines, and relaxing music. “We want to cover all aspects of mental fitness,” says cofounder and co-CEO Michael Acton Smith. In December, the company partnered with LeBron James to launch the “Train Your Mind” series, in which the basketball star shares motivational wisdom on such topics as managing emotions and preparing for a big game. “You go to the gym to get your body in shape,” says Acton Smith. “You can use Calm to get your mind in shape.”
Read more about Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies:
- The world’s 50 most innovative companies of 2020
- The 10 most innovative wellness companies of 2020
- How Snap defied the haters—and keeps reinventing the social media game
- Footprint is proving that sustainability can scale
A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.