Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies, and Founders Fund, holds hundred dollar bills as he speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 Conference at Miami Beach Convention Center on April 7, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo via Getty Images.
On September 1st, Evie Magazine—which strives to be the conservative answer to Cosmo, and which promotes COVID denialism and vaccine misinformation, soft-focus transphobia, and a weird obsession with organ meats—announced a new venture: 28, a “femtech” company offering workouts and nutritional tips based on users’ menstrual cycles, and which requires those users to enter information about the first day of their last period. The week prior, TechCrunch announced the new venture’s biggest funder: the investment firm Thiel Capital, which led the latest $3.2 million funding round, and whose founder Peter Thiel has a variety of other interests. (Those include, of late, funding the MAGA movement to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.)
In the past, of course, Thiel has personally expressed some attention-grabbing thoughts about both women and health technology. In a 2009 essay, he famously expressed the opinion that giving women the right to vote made the country less libertarian and thus worse. And as Inc. magazine reported in 2016, Thiel reportedly expressed an interest in having young people’s blood transfused into his own body as a potential fountain of youth; a year later, people connected with Thiel Capital began making the rounds to deny that story, not very convincingly. (Disclosure: Thiel also funded a lawsuit against Gawker Media, the company where I used to work, that successfully bankrupted the company.) That—and Thiel’s traditional interest in panopticon technology—makes Thiel Capital a curiously appropriate choice to partner with Evie Magazine and its founder, Brittany Hugoboom, a model and TikTok influencer turned conservative media entrepreneur. (Hugoboom uses her maiden name, Martinez, as an Evie byline and a Twitter handle, and her married name on TikTok.) In an announcement on Evie, Hugoboom called 28 a natural extension of Evie’s mission, writing that the magazine has already “raised awareness around the negative impact of hormonal birth control on our bodies, and helped women find healthier and more natural alternatives in a time when the subject is considered ‘off-limits’ by women’s media.” She linked to two of the many articles Evie has written on the purported dangers of hormonal birth control and touting so-called “natural family planning.”
“Now that we've introduced you to what we're calling ‘feminine fitness’ – the philosophy that you should be exercising and eating according to your cycle,” Hugoboom added, “we’re incredibly excited and proud to reveal the launch of our brand, 28 by Evie.” 28 promises to provide “personalized streaming workouts, nutrition profiles, and science-based ‘horoscope-like’ insights for women, designed around the four phases of the natural cycle,” by which they mean the menstrual cycle. Hugoboom adds, “Our tech uses nature to determine where you are in your cycle and customizes your daily routine to satisfy your body’s physical and hormonal needs.”The “tech” in question is not specified, but 28 does require a few specific things from its users—namely, despite not being a period-tracking app, basic information about users’ menstrual cycles. It also says that “28's software relies on user input in order to track their cycle. That data is then stored and moved behind secure storage methods and transfer protocols,” without detailing what those are. The menstrual information is required because the app relies on the pseudo-scientific idea that different types of exercise are required for different times in the menstrual cycle, a notion not particularly supported by science.Sign up for Motherboard’s daily newsletter for a regular dose of our original reporting, plus behind-the-scenes content about our biggest stories.
Both Hugoboom and her husband Gabriel posted announcements about the launch of the company on Instagram. In his post, Gabriel sang the praises of Peter Thiel and referred to him personally—not Thiel Capital—as 28’s lead investor. (Besides his role as a founder of Evie, Hugoboom appears to be an aspiring musician and actor, who, per IMDB, most recently appeared in Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.) “Peter Thiel’s book, Zero to One, sits on the shelf of every hopeful entrepreneur looking to start a company and solve a problem in the world,” Hugoboom wrote. “It’s a must read. Peter was Facebook’s first investor, founded PayPal, and his fund is one of the great American venture capital firms that has funded many of the world’s most successful companies, like SpaceX. It’s wild that he is now our lead investor at 28, the femtech company my wife and I started and have been working on for the past few years.”In her launch announcement, Hugoboom also darkly warned that the wrong kind of exercise could throw women’s hormones out of whack: “For the majority, the most effective way to balance your hormones is through proper nutrition and exercise that’s in sync with your natural cycle,” she writes. (Italics very much hers.) Evie has long stressed the notion that women should only engage in “feminine” exercise, discouraging lifting heavy weights, and written about why women shouldn’t, in its words, “work out like men.” 28’s website and TikTok announcement both feature many photos of women with very long hair delicately posing in bikinis, drinking from coconuts, and running, extremely gently, across sandy beaches.
“If your cycle is your compass,” 28’s website promises, “then 28 is your path to healthy hormones, self-discovery, and a beautiful, feminine physique.”It’s fairly easy to see where 28 dovetails with the rest of Evie and Hugoboom’s interests—namely, promoting a more “traditional” model of femininity. Along with a hostility towards birth control, Hugoboom has also tweeted about how modern women got “scammed” by feminism and working outside the home, a notion that Evie’s Twitter account has also echoed many, many times.One particularly weird Evie article posited that feminism was a “psyop to get women to pay more taxes to the government,” an ahistorical grab bag of words that also manages to get in some fretting about Marxism. (“By pushing women out of the home, Marxists were able to achieve two goals at once,” the author declares. “They destroyed the biologically strong glue of the nuclear family while doubling their workforce.”)