Over 6M people now have RunKeeper accounts to track and share their workouts -- triple the number since November 2010 -- and just 30% of them are in the U.S., CEO and co-founder Jason Jacobs told LAUNCH.
Growth exploded when the Boston-based, three-year-old company made its $10 Pro app free on Dec. 30, 2010, despite being a top-10 grossing health and fitness app in the iPhone store last year.
"Although we did forgo a lot of short-term download revenue, it's not about the short term for us," says Jason, who points out the company has not touched any of the $1.5M raised so far "because revenues are scaling faster than expenses."
RunKeeper Elite, a web-based subscription service that costs $4.99 a month or $19.99 a year, continues to generate revenue. But parent company FitnessKeeper's 11 employees are focused on integrating RunKeeper with other fitness and health apps through its Health Graph, launched a month ago (see screenshot below).
"Someone needs to play the role of staying thin and being the glue that ties everything together so that the whole ecosystem can mature faster and users can get a holistic view -- 'this is my health and I can see all the things I do in one place,'" Jason explains.
In other words, you'll be able to see your activity, blood pressure, sleep and weight data together. Like Amazon can tell you which books you'll like based on what you and others have bought, the Health Graph could tell you what other apps might help you, or how much your sleep is affecting your weight loss.
The Health Graph API, still in closed alpha, has integrated nearly 20 partners including Foursquare, Zeo and Withings from day one and more recently WeightConnect, Swim Converer and Fitocracy. It has "several hundred" more in development, says Jason.
FitnessKeeper won't make money charging other companies to integrate but there will be affiliate revenue. For instance, an app that drives someone to RunKeeper's premium services will make 50% of the revenue earned from that subscriber in perpetuity.
"We want to supplement services and for the small guys their revenue model," Jason says. That also means all running apps are potential partners rather than competitors.
Jason knows FitnessKeeper has a huge opportunity now that Google Health, which sought to organize and track all of an individual's health and fitness data, plans to shut down on Jan. 1.
"Sometimes it does take a little company to emerge to tie everything together," he says. "No one wants a giant to step in. If a little neutral company steps in, sometimes that's what it takes to make everyone play nice."
Last year, the question Jason got asked repeatedly was "How are you going to avoid getting crushed by Nike?" While Nike's running app directly competed with RunKeeper, Jason is clearly eager to have the company as a partner.
"The day Nike signs on as a partner will be a big win for the Health Graph and the ecosystem because it means the Health Graph is finally really starting to get its legs," he says.