SoftBank and celebrities back funding for faith-based app

The SoftBank Group Corp logo display at the SoftBank World Conference 2017 in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS / Issei Kato

LONDON (Reuters) – Christian worship and meditation app Glorify has raised $40 million from investors including SoftBank (9984.T), venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and reality TV star Kris Jenner, the company said on Thursday.

Founded in the UK in 2020, the app provides subscribers with religion-based meditation through inspirational quotes, worship procedures and short excerpts from the Bible.

While the amount raised is small compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars that major funds regularly invest in growing companies, Glorify is one of a number of Christian apps that have grown in recent years, taking advantage of major funding sources.

The app has about 250,000 daily users, mostly in the United States and Brazil.

The fundraising was led by Andreessen Horowitz, better known as “a16z”. The SoftBank Fund in Latin America also contributed.

Celebrity investors include Kris Jenner and singers Michael Buble and Jason Derulo.

“There is an amazing ecosystem for Christian investors in the United States,” said Ed Bekele, founder of Glorify with Henry Costa.

Beckley said he is looking for investors whose values ​​align with the company, although not all of them are necessarily Christian.

“The Christian community is incredibly social and cosmopolitan, but historically it has been deprived of new technologies,” said Connie Chan, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “Exaltation changes this.”

The growth of Christian apps was in the running before the pandemic, particularly in the US, but demand has been rising recently as shutdowns have limited people’s ability to go to physical churches.

Christian apps created in the past few years that have proven themselves include one called Abide and another called Pray.

A Catholic prayer app called Hallow said earlier this month that it raised more than $50 million in funding in 2021, from investors including Peter Thiel, with growth accelerating due to the pandemic.

Glorify said the money it raised will be used to expand the team from its current number of around 60 employees and create new office locations around the world.

The app also aims to create an online community that allows for deeper engagement with religion-based content “instead of the superficial, group sharing you typically see on traditional social networks,” Beckley said.

“Funny way, I migrate communities from one place to another, so I look at public social networks like Instagram, Facebook (FB.O) etc. and I see that they have hundreds of very active communities and they try to build a context specific place for them.”

In the future, Beckley said, the app may include functionality such as Christian dating and tools for managing churches and donations.

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