Austin’s MapMyFitness Charts Digital Fitness Course to $150M Exit

2007 wasn’t that long ago, but at that time when Robin Thurston and Kevin Callahan founded what was then called MapMyRun, using digital devices to enhance one’s fitness routine was still largely the domain of ultra-athletes. Smartphones were new and everyday use of GPS was uncommon.

Six years later, the rechristened MapMyFitness has gone from a stand-alone fitness website to a suite of apps with a community of 20 million users who employ 400 different fitness tracking devices, sensors, and wearable technologies. And, earlier today, athletic apparel company Under Armour (NYSE: UA), announced it was buying the Austin, TX-based, startup for $150 million.

Chris Glode, MapMyFitness’s general manager, says the company wasn’t looking for a partner when Under Armour first came calling in the early summer. But he says he and his team ultimately were won over because of the Baltimore-based apparel maker’s commitment to building an open platform. That platform allows users to use nearly any fitness monitoring device offered from dozens of manufacturers in order to track their workouts—say, the map of your Sunday 5-mile run—and compare it with other routes, as well as sharing the information with family and friends on social media.

“This means something that is always free for users that provides consumers with the widest range of choice in devices, programs, and fitness equipment,” he says. “That’s important to us. We’ve spent time and energy working with our partners to get them integrated into our platform.”

Both Under Armour and MapMyFitness share the belief that some of the best innovations come from outside their own walls, Glode added.

“This partnership is about Under Armour enhancing our digital expertise to drive the future of performance innovation for the global athlete community,” Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour in Baltimore said this morning in a press statement. “We will build on the community of over 20 million registered users that MapMyFitness has cultivated in the connected fitness space, and together we will serve as a destination for the measurement and analytics needs of all athletes.”

Currently, Under Armour offers a $150 wearable health tracker called Armour39. Gode says MapMyFitness will integrate that product with its suite of apps.

Under Armour isn’t the only big sports apparel retailer to move into digital fitness. In 2006 Nike (NYSE: NKE) started its own social fitness program, Nike+, and in 2012 it launched a fitness tracking wristband, Fuelband, that integrates with Nike+. Last December, Nike said it, along with Techstars, was starting Nike+Accelerator, a three-month program to nurture startups building technology geared to better fitness.

The market for digital fitness devices that can track, compare, and share our workout regimes is expected to triple to $5 billion in 2016 from $1.6 billion today, according to a recent Gartner report. IHS Electronics & Media says downloads of sports and fitness apps should grow to 248 million in 2017 from 156 million last year.

MapMyFitness raised a Series C round of $5 million in June, and has raised a total of $23 million, investors including Austin Ventures and Milestone Venture Partners. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Under Armour, MapMyFitness will continue to operate out of its headquarters in Austin.

The startup was originally conceived in Denver in 2005. In 2010, its founders moved to Austin, where 61 of the company’s 100 employees are based today. It still retains a presence in Denver, where Glode and about 30 others are based. The remainder are scattered in home offices in different U.S. markets.

“None of us anticipated the kind of explosive growth we would have,” Glode says. “When you go from being a startup with a couple of people in a small closet, supporting a few thousand users, to 20 million in Web and mobile traffic, it’s mind-blowing.”

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