Pando to shut down, founder Eli Holder joins wellness app maker, Noom

By Erin Griffith , written on September 13, 2013

From The News Desk was a simple fitness tracking app that turned Fitbit, Jawbone, RunKeeper and BodyMedia data into beautiful charts. It had some early fans, including Sarah Lacy, who praised the app's approach when it launched.

It’s not about guilting, shaming, or scaring you into getting healthy. It’s about flattering, delighting, and luring you into it.
It was a nice idea that didn't exactly catch on. That was probably due in part to the sheer volume of fitness apps competing in the App Store.

Notch will shut down in the coming weeks. Holder, who previously built and sold an email prioritization app called Unblab to AOL in 2010, will join weight-loss app maker Noom as the company's VP of Engagement. Holder says the number one requested feature for Notch was nutrition tracking, which Noom offers.

New York and Seoul-based Noom has raised $2.6 million from m8 Capital, Qualcomm Ventures and Harbor Pacific Capital. Its portfolio of weight-loss and fitness apps have accumulated 19 million registered users around the world. That is impressive considering that many of them are not cheap, as far as apps go. Weight Loss Coach, for example, costs $9.99 a month.

The shut-down of Notch comes as "quantified self" fitness apps enter the backlash phase of the hype cycle. Earlier this summer, Michael Carney painted a bleak picture of companies using things like purchase data, social media data, and even heath and banking data, against you. He shared a number of concerning Terms of Service passages from the likes of Nike and Jawbone Up. "We may share your personal information" is a common phrase.

Beyond privacy and security concerns, in the fitness world, there's the concern that data doesn't even work. Last month, Dick Talens, the founder of fitness tracking app Fitocracy, declared that, as far as weight loss is concerned, the quantified self "is bullshit." The idea that sharing data about ones fitness and diet habits will solve America's weight problem, he argued, is merely a feel-good fairy tale, "like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny."

Quantified Self adherents claim if we measure and manage our numerous health-related metrics, we can improve our overall health. …. But health doesn’t work like that. You cannot tally up “health points” any more than you can tally up Starks and Lannisters …

Measuring every aspect of your life does not necessarily lead to better health. … because health is a complex system. Every “healthy activity” has an impact on other activities and the system as a whole. Regardless of whether the quantified self works. Like any fitness or diet craze, these apps are irresistible, regardless of their effectiveness. Nineteen million registered Noom users prove that much is true. And yet, the company is keeping mum on how many of those users have stuck with it.

[Image courtesy Noom]