Astrology app set to disrupt ‘mystical services sector’

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The Sanctuary iPhone app will allow users to chat with astrologers – for a price. — Dreamstime/TNS Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2019/03/25/astrology-app-set-to-disrupt-mystical-services-sector/#lG8rPvtwQfxTWGRu.99

Any entity created on this planet comes into the world with a star chart, dominated by a sun sign, reflecting the motion of the spheres above at its moment of birth. 

Facebook, for instance, is an Aquarius, while Google, Snap and Netflix are all Virgos. Microsoft and Twitter – both Aries. Amazon? Classic Cancer. 

Sanctuary, a digital astrology startup backed by US$1.5mil in venture capital, made the considered decision to launch on March 20 – the dawn of the new astrological year, when Pisces gives way to Aries in the astral cycle.

And with private equity veterans, celebrity astrologers and one of Snapchat’s earliest employees on board, its investors foresee fortunes. 

There’s always been money to be made in cosmic guidance. The ancient king Croesus, who’s credited with inventing minted money itself, gave a 500-pound lump of gold to the oracle at Delphi as tribute for good forecasts. Tycho Brahe, the Renaissance scientist whose observations of the stars laid the groundwork for Galileo’s breakthroughs, made his living as a royal astrologer. 

More recently, the phone psychic network behind Miss Cleo raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in the ’90s, and was fined by the Federal Trade Commission for unfair business practices. Astrology.com recently told Digiday its revenues are in the “low eight figures” and growing, based mostly on ad revenue. 

In 2018, Americans spent US$2.2bil (RM8.90bil) on “mystical services”, according to research firm IBISWorld. And the Internet, especially social media, is awash in astrology. Influencers pose with crystals, memes about Mercury in retrograde (a supposedly inauspicious time of tumult) ripple across Instagram, and horoscopes have re-emerged as a mainstay of women’s sites like the Cut, Bustle and Broadly. 

“Astrology has been around for a very long time, and it really adapts to the vernacular that people are speaking,” said Aliza Kelly, Sanctuary’s astrologer-in-residence and a horoscope writer for Cosmopolitan magazine. 

“Today, the language is technology and memes and connectivity.” 

The business models adapt too. Kelly leverages her media success and Instagram following to sell 60-minute phone readings for US$149 a pop and is booked solid through early May.