Canary Health, a developer of patient health management software, has acquired mental health management online program bLife in an all-stock deal. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

BLife of Santa Monica develops a suite of mental health management tools, including psychological assessments, guided meditations, breathing exercises, goal-setting programs, and visualization training. The company charges consumers $15 a month for access to its programs. According to a study commissioned by the firm, its users self-reported a 15 percent reduction in stress over three months after using bLife programs.

West L.A.’s Canary has a suite of digital programs for managing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, and arthritis. The company is paid by health insurance companies, health care providers, and employers to improve the health of patients, especially chronically ill patients.

Canary bought bLife in order to have a psychological health care management tool it could offer to insurance and health care providers, said Chief Executive Adam Kaufman, adding that the company will continue to sell bLife directly to consumers.

Canary was launched last year and is breaking even financially, he said. The combined company has about 25 full-time employees.

As the Affordable Care Act increasingly ties hospital and insurer payments to improving the health of patients, the company is aiming to grow its revenue substantially.

“We have a (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)-recognized program that prevents people who have prediabetes from progressing to actual diabetes,” noted Kaufman.

While a number of Canary’s programs are automated, the company also includes a coaching chat service to encourage and assist patients as they manage chronic health conditions. The startup employs about 80 part-time coaches who routinely reach out to patients.

“There is a service element wrapped into the technology,” said Kaufman. “They are tracking people’s progress, nudging them if they need support, and celebrating their successes.”

Virtual Reality Money

Not wanting to be left behind in the race to produce virtual reality content, Comcast Ventures last week led a $3 million seed investment in virtual reality startup Spaces Inc. of Santa Monica.

The VR startup was co-founded by Chief Executive Shiraz Akmal and Chief Technology Officer Brad Herman, who previously worked on developing virtual reality content for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal reached agreement to buy DreamWorks Animation last month in a deal worth $3.8 billion.

Spaces has been working to develop virtual reality content with a variety of companies including NBCUniversal and architecture firm Hettema Group of Pasadena. It is also working with Microsoft Corp. to develop so-called mixed-reality content for its HoloLens, an augmented-reality headset that overlays digital animation on real-world images.

In addition to Comcast Ventures, Spaces received funding from Boost VC, Canyon Creek Capital, Colopl VR Fund, Gree Inc., Kai Huang, and Venture Reality Fund.

Comcast’s seed funding comes as other media giants are scrambling to take a stake in upstart virtual reality companies.

AOL Inc.’s Huffington Post last month acquired Ryot Corp. of Venice, a virtual reality news and documentary producer, for an undisclosed amount. Walt Disney Co. joined with China Media Capital and Evolution Media Partners to pour a $65 million Series C investment into Palo Alto virtual reality production company Jaunt in September. Evolution Media Partners is a partnership among Creative Artists Agency-backed Evolution Media Capital, TPG Growth, and Participant Media.

Mother’s Little Helper

Tracy Fredkin knows moms are busy.

The founder and chief executive of CityMoms, a nation-wide network of blogs that publishes parenting advice and information about local child-friendly events, figured there ought to be an easier way to help parents find, pay for, and schedule activities for their children.

Her Studio City company launched its app this week, a monthly subscription service that sources local kids’ activities and offers discounted prices. Activities vary and include tickets to the zoo, museums, as well as fitness, dance, and music classes.

A subscription costs $99 a month, which includes the price of one event each day. Five activities a month costs $50, though activities can also be purchased à la carte.

The company earns money by splitting revenue with the roughly 100 businesses it lists, said Fredkin. Collectively, CityMoms’ partners offer about 350 to 400 classes a month. The activities equate to thousands of hours that parents don’t have to entertain their children.

“Our focus is on choice. It’s about flexibility and value so that families have access to information at their fingertips that otherwise would have taken them hours to locate,” she said. “Now they can find something, make a decision, book, and go.”

Staff Reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at or (323) 549-5225, ext. 232.

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