Mar 29, 2022
KKR Values Behavioral-Health Startup Brightline at $705 Million
(Bloomberg) -- Brightline, a provider of virtual behavioral-health services to children and their families, said it is valued at $705 million after raising $105 million from investors led by KKR & Co.
Existing investors including Alphabet Inc.’s venture arm GV, Optum Ventures, Oak HC/FT Partners, Threshold Ventures and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts participated in the funding round, said Naomi Allen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Palo Alto, California-based Brightline.
The startup formerly known as Emilio Health plans to spend the capital on hiring and broadening its offerings as it tackles a “pediatric mental-health crisis,” Allen said in an interview. Anxiety and depression among children and adolescents jumped by at least 20% during the pandemic, according to an analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Even before Covid-19 struck, 75% of U.S. counties didn’t have a single child or adolescent psychiatrist, said Allen. “It’s a broken care model,” she added, noting that some families wind up in emergency rooms due to a lack of adequate support.
Allen sees “tremendous” demand for Brightline’s virtual content, coaching and care offerings, which treat ADHD, cyberbullying, depression, anxiety and other behavioral issues. After launching in March with a Fortune 500 company, Brightline saw 1% of total dependents sign up within the first 12 hours. She said the company’s services can reduce the levels of burnout and depression among parents and caregivers.
“There’s a significant correlation between pediatric mental health and the wellbeing of the parents and caregivers,” Allen said.
Brightline has roughly 85 care providers, including psychologists, psychiatrists, speech-language pathologists and behavioral coaches, a number that it expects to roughly triple by year-end, Allen said.
The startup plans additional services such as a program focused on early intervention for kids with autism spectrum disorder, and various other programs for youth. Some content will be tailored to caregivers -- for instance, education around why pronouns matter, Allen said.
Brightline expects to serve almost 30,000 children and teenagers by the end of 2022, Allen said, declining to disclose the current number. The startup operates in all 50 U.S. states, partnering with health plans such as Aetna Inc. and self-insured employers such as Stanford University and Xcel Energy Inc.
“We are thrilled to work with Naomi and her team as they continue to build and scale category-leading solutions to the direct benefit of millions of children and families, many of whom are drastically underserved today,” Johnny Kim, a KKR director who has joined Brightline’s board, said in an emailed statement. The New York-based firm made its investment through KKR Health Care Strategic Growth Fund II.
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