Venture Capitalists See Profit in Prayer

Religion apps attract more than $175 million in investment.

Tech investors have discovered religion—or at least religion apps.

In 2021, venture capitalists poured more than $175 million into a handful of software companies developing spirituality tools for smartphones, betting big that tech startups can find a way to make a profit off of prayer, daily devotion, Scripture meditation, and Bible reading.

Prayer and spirituality apps aren’t new. They’ve existed almost as long as smartphones. But they didn’t attract this much capital until recently.

Ten years ago, the amount of venture funding invested in religion apps was negligible, coming in at less than $100,000. By 2016, that number had climbed to $6 million, and by 2019, tech investors put about $1.30 out of every $10,000 they invested in startups into religious apps.

Last year, as tech startup funding grew to a record $600 billion, investors put nearly $3 out of every $10,000 toward religious apps.

The two big winners are Hallow and Glorify. Hallow, a Catholic app that has partnered with 250 parishes across the country but especially targets people who’ve stopped going to church, received more than $50 million. Glorify, an app that promises to help users develop a daily worship habit, raised $40 million in investments.

“It’s just a ridiculously exciting time,” Ed Beccle, one of the cofounders of the London-based Glorify, told Religion News Service. “I feel like I am constantly pinching myself.”

Part of the rush of funding may be due to COVID-19. The pandemic drew attention to how much regular religious practice could be moved online. But investors clearly believe religion apps will continue to be popular long after the pandemic passes into memory.

The apps seem to be considered …

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