Prince Harry has two new titles: tech executive and commissioner on disinformation.
The Duke of Sussex is joining the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder, which will deliver “recommendations for how the country can respond to this modern-day crisis of faith in key institutions,” the nonprofit organization announced Wednesday. The commission will seek to “help stop the spread of disinformation.”
The announcement came one day after BetterUp, a Silicon Valley startup, revealed that the duke was its newest employee. No longer a working member of the British royal family, Harry will serve as “chief impact officer” for the company.
BetterUp “brings together world-class coaching, AI technology, and behavioral science experts” to help people “live more meaningful, vibrant lives,” according to the company’s website. It works with corporations to identify employees who could benefit from coaching and gives them “a personalized path to growth — so you’re able to tap into the employees most prepared to transform your business.”
Harry, who has been vocal about his struggles with mental health, has been working with one of BetterUp’s coaches and using the app himself. But his unusual background apparently made filling out the initial multiple-choice questionnaire a bit of a challenge.
“I realize I’m an outlier so there’s no need to get the engineers on it!” he told the Wall Street Journal, adding, “I was matched with my coach who, quite frankly, is truly awesome and has always given me sound advice and a fresh perspective, which is so valuable.”
Harry’s role within the company doesn’t involve supervising direct reports, according to the Journal. He is set to provide input on product strategy and corporate giving. It also means that the duke will serve as a public face of the company.
Harry joins the executive team as BetterUp continues its rapid growth. Founded in 2013, the company touts a network of more than 2,000 coaches, with several big name businesses among its clients, including Hilton, Warner Media and Chevron. The company claims it has served over 100,000 members since its founding and has more than 270 employees.
As organizations and the broader public have become more attuned to mental health and wellness, employers have turned to a variety of resources to offer up to their staff, including online mentoring and counseling. Last month, BetterUp raised $125 million from investors, valuing the company at $1.73 billion. The latest financing round was led by Iconiq Growth and included existing and new investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures.
All told, BetterUp has raised $300 million, which investors have said the company will use to fuel its international growth. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, chief executive Alexi Robichaux said the company is eyeing an initial public offering but did not provide a timeline.
The duke has long campaigned for mental health awareness and has spoken openly about his struggles following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was 12. In an interview with the Telegraph in 2017, he said he sought therapy after he “shut down all emotions” during two decades of grief, and also took up boxing in an attempt to help manage his anxiety.
In recent years, he has also called out the British tabloids for relentless negative coverage of his wife, Meghan, who said in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey that she had experienced suicidal feelings as a result of unfounded reports in the media and from life in the royal spotlight.
Through his role with the Aspen Institute, Harry will help conduct a six-month study on misinformation in the United States, joining an effort chaired by the likes of journalist Katie Couric and Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. A prominent player in the nonprofit sphere, the institute has asked the commission to consult with experts and come up with a list of “actionable public-private responses” to address the spread of false information.
The duke will not be compensated for his role on the commission, according to the Aspen Institute.
Since relocating to California, the Sussexes have embarked on commercial ventures, including a podcast deal with Spotify valued at an estimated $25 million and a partnership with Netflix rumored to be worth $100 million. It is not known how much Harry is being compensated by BetterUp.
Harry’s new corporate job “is a business move,” royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told The Washington Post, but one that is consistent with the duke’s focus on mental wellness.
“The response in Britain, where the response to his and Meghan’s ‘bombshell’ interview on Oprah divided the generations, is likely to claim that he is cashing in on his royal status,” Fitzwilliams said. While anything the Sussexes do is likely to be met with hostility in the British media, he added, “their main aim is to enhance their brand in the United States and the wider world.”