Earlier this month, the women’s health app Flo announced that it closed $50m in a Series B funding round led by VNV Global and Target Global. As a result, the company is valued at $800m.
Initially a period tracker, Flo has evolved into a tool women use to plan pregnancies, monitor health conditions, and obtain access to a lot of scientific data about their health. Dubbed a “category-defining company in the femtech industry” by CEO of Target Global Alexander Frolov, Flo was App Store’s most popular app in 2020.
That’s no surprise – the femtech market has grown exponentially over the last few years and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Tools like Flo, Clue, and The Lowdown aim to give women more control over their health and bodies and make more informed decisions. However, the last couple of years weren’t without their pitfalls for Flo. Please find out more about the company’s plans for the new funding and the legal issues it’s currently facing below.
New funding goals
“With this funding, we’ll be able to further democratize access to credible health information, helping people better understand their unique signs and symptoms on an even larger scale,” said Flo’s VP of product Cath Everett. Indeed, combating dangerous misinformation about women’s health, of which there are heaps of on the Internet, by providing credible data, is a worthy goal.
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Flo also plans to use the funding to recruit 100 experts for its London office in engineering, R&D, product, data science, and of course, medicine, according to CEO Dmitry Gurski. The increased resources will also help the app improve its predictions and analyze symptom patterns so that people have a better idea of what’s happening to their bodies.
Privacy and legal concerns
However, not everything’s rosy with the popular app. Earlier this year, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the American branch of Flo Health, alleging that the app shared women’s sensitive health information provided to it with third parties like Facebook, Google, AppsFlyer, and Flurry, Inc in 2016-2019. The claim was settled in June of this year.
Notable for FTC’s first order of a privacy action, the settlement obliges Flo to notify affected users about the disclosure of their health information and instruct any third party that received users’ health information to destroy that data. The relevant legal notice was placed on Flo’s website confirming that “they do not currently, and will not, share any information about your health with any company unless we get <your> permission.” The company also isn’t allowed to misrepresent why it collects and uses data, how much consumers can control data use, its compliance with the law and privacy policies, or how it deals with users’ info.
However, that wasn’t the end of it. Earlier this month, a group of users filed a class-action suit against Flo, alleging that it shared users’ sensitive information with third parties without the users’ knowledge. The lawsuit also names Facebook, Google, AppsFlyer, and Flurry as defendants. The case was filed in a California federal court.
YouTube: Why are Millions of Women Using Flo?
Photo credit: All media shown is owned by Flo Health and was made available through a press kit.
Source: Flo Press Release / Emmy Lucas (Fierce Healthcare) / Naomi Ackerman (Standard) / FTC Files / FTC Press Release / Charlotte Tucket (EU-Startups) / Natasha Lomas (TechCrunch) / US District Court Northern District of California