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Oura Ring Startup Brings on New CEO to Lead Its Pre-IPO Growth Push

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(Bloomberg) -- Finnish wearable-technology startup Oura Health Oy is getting a new leader with public market experience to spearhead expansion before an eventual initial public offering.

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Oura plans to announce Monday that Tom Hale, former president of SurveyMonkey owner Momentive Global Inc., will be the new chief executive officer. Hale, 53, succeeds Harpreet Singh Rai, who departed in December.

Hale will be charged with overseeing growth in a recently launched subscription business at Oura, which makes a ring that tracks a wearer’s sleep, heart rate, body temperature and other measures of health and wellness. Hale, who helped take Momentive public in 2018, said he also wants to broaden Oura’s appeal to businesses and build on ways that data collected by the ring can be used in health-related research.

“There are many opportunities,” Hale said in an interview. “The ring can be used for illness detection and return to work. There’s a ton of work to be done in organizations around fitness.”

Hale is taking the helm as demand rises for wearable technology -- such as rings, watches and fitness bands -- that can be used to help people stay on top of their health. But Oura is also up against intensifying competition, notably from Apple Inc., which recently added an array of features, including a bigger screen and the ability to capture an electrocardiogram, a measure of electrical signals used to monitor heart health.

Hale’s experience with IPOs was a consideration in his appointment, said Eurie Kim, managing partner at Forerunner Ventures who led the firm’s investment in Oura. Before his stint at Momentive, Hale also worked as an executive at Homeaway at the time of its IPO and later sale to Expedia Group Inc.

“We don’t invest in companies that we don’t think can be publicly scalable investments,” Kim said. “We absolutely have the aspiration to take this company far and wide, and hopefully that incorporates going public.” Kim added that there’s no “prescribed plan” on IPO timing.

Forerunner was among the investors in Oura’s most recent funding round, which valued the Oulu, Finland-based company at $2.55 billion. Oura’s investors have included Google’s Gradient Ventures, Square Inc., Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, Salesforce Inc. CEO Marc Benioff, actor Will Smith and former professional basketball center Shaquille O’Neal.

One of the areas where Hale and Kim aspire to expand Oura’s reach is in women’s health. The company has taken part in research that showed the ring’s continuous temperature monitoring can help spot changes that indicate pregnancy or ovulation. Oura is also testing a feature that helps predict a woman’s menstrual cycle. “Reproductive health is a huge opportunity,” Kim said.

Hale also aims to explore adding social features to the Oura app, such as helping users share data with small, trusted groups -- say, family members wanting to keep tabs on an elderly relative. “There’s a lot of value in connecting people around health and wellness and fitness,” he said.

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