It may just be a bit of fun from the New York Times but, in the paper’s usual fashion, a lot of evidence is presented to support its thesis. Venture capital managers are increasingly interested in investing in the ‘mystical services market’. That’s astrology to you and me.
According to a New York Times report mid-April several mystical services market companies, in an industry worth an estimated US$2.1 billion in total, have attracted venture capital interest and funding recently. They include:
- Sanctuary, an app which is described as “Uber for astrological readings”, where you get one individual reading with an astrologer per month, for $19.99, and daily horoscopes – backed through David Birnbaum’s incubator Five Four Ventures
- Co-Star, an app that lets people download and compare their ‘birth charts’ raised $5 million from Silicon Valley venture firms Maveron and Aspect Ventures and 14W based in New York. The app has been downloaded more than three million times. Its Instagram account has more than 400,000 followers, and
- Pattern, an app which is increasingly popular among “Hollywood and finance types” and was started by a founder of Maker Studios, now a division of Disney, which is about to embark on a fund-raising round.
According to the New York Times report, written by Erin Griffith, “The casual observer might attribute astrology’s surging popularity to the stereotype of the narcissistic millennial. Of course, the selfie-loving ‘nano-influencer’ generation is eager to hear that they’re unique and special, no matter how woo-woo it seems. Horoscopes are a more personalized version of BuzzFeed-style identity content that’s designed to be relatable and shareable: “17 Things That Only People Named Jennifer Will Understand” or “28 Signs You Were Raised By Persian Parents In America.” Birnbaum said: “What’s better than something that is basically a story about you?”
Griffith wrote: “But that explanation ignores what many in the astro-verse consider the major turning point for Big Zodiac: The election of Donald Trump. It changed everything, according to Aliza Kelly, the astrologer-in-residence at Sanctuary. (She writes its horoscopes and conducts some of its readings.) Watching the New York Times ‘forecast needle’ tip from Hillary Clinton to Mr Trump raised people’s doubts about certain scientifically proven systems, Ms Kelly said. “People became so much more receptive to the idea of there being different ways of seeing the world,” she said. They turned to astrology “in order to create some sense of structure and hope and stability in their lives…
“Investors see other trends feeding into astrology’s resurgence… People are seeking smaller, specialized communities online, while participation in organized religion is declining. Millennials (and the rest of us) are lonely and want community, no matter how many followers we have on social media. Why wouldn’t we turn to the stars and moons and planets and houses of the horoscope?”