Babylist makes an even bigger bet on baby products with Expectful acquisition

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Today, baby registry and product discovery platform Babylist announced that it has acquired health and wellness tool Expectful for an undisclosed price. The deal brings together two companies focused on parental support, now helping people navigate everything from eco-friendly diapers to mental wellness around fertility.

The overlap, however, is in more than the mission. Both of the company’s CEOs invested in each other’s last venture capital round; Babylist’s CEO and founder Natalie Gordon wrote a check into Expectful’s $3 million seed round back in 2021; and Expectful CEO Nathalie Walton invested in Babylist’s last round, a $40 million Series C closed in the same year.

While the two founders didn’t publicly disclose purchase price, both certainly have venture capitalists to answer to. Babylist has raised $50 million in known funding from investors including Norwest Venture Partners, Halogen Ventures, 500 Global, Next Play Capital and Marcy Venture Partners. Expectful has raised over $4.2 million in funding from investors including Harlem Capital. Indicator Ventures, Sequoia Scout Fund, Break Trail Ventures and Chinagona Ventures.

The long-term vision for the newly combined company is for Babylist to change its relationship with its audience and become a larger, health and wellness media property, Gordon said. While Expectful will stay as a standalone website, Gordon hinted that much of its content will eventually be free to access — different from its currently advertised subscriber-oriented business model.

“Having a baby is so wonderful — it’s also overwhelming and isolating,” Gordon said. “When you talk to people going through this — the stuff is one thing, but actually their physical and their mental and emotional health are like much more significant.” With Expectful, she said, the company can talk to its audience in a way that doesn’t make sense for the tech-powered registry side of the business.

Babylist’s eye for expansion may be partially attributed to its revenue growth; the company grossed over $240 million in revenue in 2021, although it did not share 2022 revenue on the record. Over eight million people made purchases from Babylist this past year, the company said.

Walton went from a user of Expectful to its chief executive in less than a year. She first joined as an adviser to Expectful, seeing it as an opportunity to be entrepreneurial despite delivering her son just weeks prior in a stressful pregnancy. Soon, Expectful’s then-CEO and founder Mark Krassner saw her as a key fit to lead the business, as it pivoted its product strategy to grow beyond recorded meditations. In a past interview, Walton described Expectful’s plan to mimic Peloton’s playbook of matching premium content with community.

Now, the entrepreneur is staying on at Babylist as a board adviser. She says she always saw the company’s exit looking like a merger with a partner in the digital health space.

“This acquisition allows us to have a much bigger impact than if we were to stay focused on revenue even,” Walton said. “Women need our products and they need our solution now, we don’t have time to wait to go that route of let’s just keep on growing revenue and have an IPO — it was more like, let’s prioritize impact, and I don’t think enough startups are thinking” that way.

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