Venture capitalists on Wall Street have now turned to gazng at the stars in an attempt to find the next big investment payoff for their cash.
A flood of astrology startups offering apps and subscription services have raised substantial mounts of cash from venture capitalists and other investors, The New York Times reported.
For example, Sanctuary Ventures Inc., a digital media company focusing on mystical services for a millennial audience, recently launched a new astrological reading app, Bloomberg reported.
It offers daily horoscopes, first-in-kind live and on-demand readings with professional astrologers, and plans to expand into the e-commerce marketplace (think tarot cards, crystals, sage bundles, and incense).
Many millennials and members of Generation Z are gravitating toward the pseudoscience, fueling the burgeoning mystical and psychic services market valued at more $2 billion, according to 2018 market research from Ibis World.
Sanctuary had a less mystical entrée into the marketplace thanks to $1.5 million in seed funding led by Advancit Capital, Broadway Video Ventures, Greycroft Partners, KEC Ventures, and Blue Seed Collective. Other apps in the astrology space include TimePassages and the AI-powered Co-Star, while the marketplace in general now accommodates items as diverse as a $15 crystal and incense kit from Urban Outfitters and $27 Psychic Vampire Repellent at Goop.
The Sanctuary app builds on the success the company has had with its Facebook Messenger astrology bot, but now expands its offerings beyond free daily horoscopes by allowing users to upgrade to a monthly ($19.99) or yearly ($199.99) subscription membership level granting access to live, chat-based readings from a team of professional astrologers led by Astrologer-in-Residence Aliza Kelly. Subscribers are able to access one astrology live-chat reading per week with the option of additional readings at $19.99 each.
Meanwhile, Co-Star, an app that lets people download and compare their birth charts, raised just over $5 million in funding from the Silicon Valley venture capital firms Maveron and Aspect Ventures, as well as 14W, based in New York, the Times said.
Co-Star’s website promotes the fact that astrology allows “irrationality to invade our techno-rationalist ways of living.” The app has been downloaded more than three million times. Its Instagram account has more than 400,000 followers.
Banu Guler, the chief executive and co-founder of Co-Star, said not every investor she pitched was enthusiastic about her company and that some dismissed its practice area as pseudoscience. “I get that you’re not into astrology,” she said, “but if you had access to a 20-something or teenager who is a girl, that’s who you need to talk to.”
Many astrology buffs consider the major turning point for interest in the Big Zodiac the election of Donald Trump, the Times explained.
“People became so much more receptive to the idea of there being different ways of seeing the world,” said Aliza Kelly, the astrologer-in-residence at Sanctuary. They turned to astrology “in order to create some sense of structure and hope and stability in their lives.”
President Trump’s election inspired Guler to leave her work in fashion media and create Co-Star. “I was like, ‘We gotta figure out something more meaningful than what we are doing,” she said. The role social media played in the election — and how “it is changing how we operate as humans in the world” was a part of her concern, Guler said.
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