Our Investment In Cleo
Becoming a parent is both one of the steepest learning curves and wobbliest balancing acts that most of us encounter. In the past few decades, parents have been left to face that challenge with heavier career responsibilities and less support structure.
Dual-income (and single-working parent) households are on the rise, mothers are the fastest growing part of the workforce, and the US remains the only developed nation without paid family leave. To make matters even more difficult, the traditional “village” of experienced community and extended family that once helped to raise a child is increasingly out of reach, as people migrate to the best work opportunities. They’re alone on an island in the storm.
Expecting and new parents hunt for support online — Google, forums — but the answers are impersonal, hard to trust, and can only do so much. A lucky and resourceful few seek professional help — from pediatricians, OB-GYNs, nurses, lactation consultants, doulas, sleep coaches, career coaches and childcare professionals — but most people cannot find, vet, afford, and use these resources when they need them. Our phones are now a remote for the real world, delivering rides, food, and rich information from many fields at the last second. There’s a huge gap between the slow and scattered way we access parenting resources, and the on-demand efficiency we expect elsewhere in our lives.
The difficulties working moms and parents face are obvious. What’s less obvious is the massive challenge and opportunity that working parents represent for employers. The war for talent is today a top-3 issue for most CEOs. Being a great place to work, and an inclusive one, is increasingly a competitive advantage, driving top-performing companies to invest in employee experience and diversity support. Supporting considering, expecting, and new parents is a huge point of leverage for employers. In addition, maternity and newborns are one of the top medical costs for many large companies, and we urgently need to drive better health outcomes at lower cost.
Enter Cleo, a way for employers to offer a modern, technology-enabled “village” to their employees. Cleo’s mobile app intelligently routes parents to a global network of certified care practitioners that provide guidance on the journey from considering to pregnancy to parenthood — and back to work again. Cleo’s mission includes but is much broader than healthcare. The mission is to enable working parents to succeed at work and at home, on their own terms. I’m excited to share that we led the Series A financing for Cleo, and I’ve joined the Board. You can read more about Cleo in Shannon’s blog post.
We’re thrilled to be in business with Cleo’s founders, CEO Shannon Spanhake and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chitra Akileswaran, and the entire Cleo team. They are an authentic, talented, high-velocity group of missionaries working on an important and acute problem. I’m also thrilled to join seed investors Forerunner and Felicis in their support of Cleo.
At Greylock, we’ve invested in several companies that build modern consumer front-end experiences that route people to high-performance, specialized networks for better healthcare; our other investments include Grand Rounds (second opinions for serious health conditions), Lyra (evidence-based mental health care) and Solv (convenient care). These companies dramatically improve access to better care consumers want. Similarly, Cleo is working to dramatically improve access to better guidance and care for parents.
By creating a win-win-win for employees, employers, and experts, Cleo is building a powerful ecosystem. Cleo has now served thousands of families globally, and I’ve seen it change lives. It offers convenience and trust in an area where both are crucial. Cleo impacts recruiting, retention, and productivity, and transforms employee attitudes toward their employer. Because of this and because it’s the right thing to do, companies are flocking to the Cleo cause. CEOs, CFOs, people and benefits leaders, and parents are telling us we have a huge impact. It’s not just a benefit — it’s a business imperative.
I was 7 months pregnant with our first child when I met Shannon and Chitra. Cleo is an incredible business opportunity, but it’s also been a personal lifeline as I’ve been tossed into the deep end of parenting. I’d be hugely disadvantaged without the help of Cleo’s ongoing and personalized guidance, especially around sleep, breastfeeding, co-parenting, and transitioning out of and back to work at Greylock. When you’ve got an inconsolable 6-week old on your hands that won’t eat, Google just doesn’t cut it. Cleo Guides do.
Cleo is tackling a big and almost universal problem. They are building a software-mediated network that dramatically democratizes access to the “modern village,” helping women and men meet modern parenting and career demands. Hundreds of billions of dollars of lost productivity, employee attrition and medical costs are at stake. Tens of millions of lives potentially improved. We are looking forward to partnering with Shannon and the Cleo team as they pursue their important mission to transform how we parent.