The initial spark that showed Calm co-founders Alex Tew and Michael Acton Smith there was a market for meditation was rather simple. Tew, who had become a minor internet celebrity for the Million Dollar Homepage, built a website in 2011 called donothingfor2minutes.com, in which a user would stare at a screen and listen to waves on a beach for two minutes without touching their mouse.
At the end of two minutes, an email prompt would appear asking people to sign up. In two weeks, over 100,000 people did. A few months later Calm.com was founded, with the intention of building on Tew’s website success.
Calm has always offered introductory lessons for free, followed by a monthly subscription for access to the entire archive.
Even with a small staff size (50 in 2019), Calm struggled in the early years to break even. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Smith said the company was down to “a few thousands dollars” and had to reduce staff to keep the business afloat. It wasn’t until 2018 that meditation apps started making serious money.
Calm and Headspace, the leaders of the sector, only generated $70 million in 2017, but that ballooned 74 percent in 2018 to $122 million. The entire industry grew by 306 percent in that time, according to Sensor Tower, with five thousand new meditation apps launching since 2015.
As Calm grew, so did its ambitions. In 2017, it won Apple’s App of the Year award, which propelled it ahead of its rival Headspace in downloads and revenue. It added Sleep Stories, which has become the app’s most popular segment, reaching over 140 million listens in 2018.
Calm has used Sleep Stories as a platform to draw in dozens of celebrities, such as LeBron James, Stephen Fry, Harry Styles and Matthew McConaughey, who narrate original stories or fiction. Calm also has archival recordings of Bob Ross available, alongside thousands of other narrated stories.
Following in the footsteps of Headspace, Calm also launched workplace services.
In the past year, Calm has also expanded to other languages, publishing stories in Spanish, French and German. It’s not clear how successful these pursuits have been, as the US still accounts for around 60 percent of the entire meditation app market.
We have collected data and statistics on Calm. Read on below to find out more.
Calm key statistics
- Calm was on track to hit $150 million revenue run rate in 2019. We estimate revenue of $150 to $200 million in 2020
- Over four million users subscribe to Calm
- The app has been valued at $2 billion in its latest funding round
- 100 million people have downloaded Calm
|Launch date||5 April 2012|
|HQ||San Francisco, California|
|People||Michael Acton Smith (co-CEO), Alex Tew (co-CEO), Tamara Levitt (Head of Mindfulness)|
|Industry||Meditation and wellness|
Note: Calm has not publicised revenue since 2019.
Calm funding (total)
Sources: Calm, TechCrunch
Source: Calm, TechCrunch
Calm downloads (total)
Calm vs Headspace: revenue
What country is Calm most popular?
Over 60 percent of web traffic came from the US, the UK came second with 10 percent (SimilarWeb)
How many Calm users subscribe to the app?
Over four million users subscribe to Calm. According to co-CEO Michael Acton Smith, one third who subscribe do so on the first day (Mixergy)
What is the median age of a Calm user?
According to Ivey Business Review, the median age is between 30 and 35
What is the age demographics of Calm?
60 percent of Calm users are female (TechCrunch)