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Traded as Parent Company NYSEBTH
Industry Multi-level marketing
Founded March 1, 2005 (2005-03-01)
Headquarters Los Angeles, CA, USA
Number of locations 2
Area served USA, Canada, UK
Key people Ryan Blair, CEO and co-founder
Blake Mallen, CMO and co-founder
Nick Sarnicola, sales chief and co-founder
Products Dietary supplements
Employees 275[1]
Parent Blyth, Inc.

ViSalus Sciences is a multilevel marketing company based in Los Angeles, California, with offices in Troy, Michigan.[2] ViSalus is a subsidiary of Blyth, Inc. The company markets weight management nutritional products, dietary supplements and energy drinks in the United States, Canada and UK through a network of approximately 76,000 independent distributors.[3] Weight management products, including Vi-Shape meal replacement shake and Vi-Trim Clear Control Drink Mix, form the bulk of the company's sales.[4]


ViSalus Sciences was originally started as The Free Network, LLC in 1997 by Founder David Rutz, and CoFounders Brad Tayles, Tara Luzod and Vito Terracianno. The Free Network and its training system, Mindware, created by David Rutz recruited and trained many individuals and surpassed 100,000 independent representatives in the first 36 months. Two of whom were Nick Sarnicola and Blake Mallen. In 2001, Rutz left The Free Network to start a new MLM company, Escape International, Inc. A few years later, The Free Network changed its registered name with the State of Michigan to Visalus.[citation needed] Sarnicola and Mallen were branded as "founders" of Visalus[citation needed] and helped grow the fledgling company to a point where in 2005, ViSalus added Ryan Blair to the team when he invested via an investment from Ropart Asset Management, a private equity firm owned by Robert B. Goergen. Sarnicola and Mallen were retained as sales chief and CMO, respectively. The company was moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The 2008 recession put ViSalus near bankruptcy, with the business $6 million in debt.[5] In 2008, ViSalus was acquired by Blyth, Inc., a multi-level marketing company that sells home decor which had been founded by Georgen.[6] In the first stage of the takeover – completed in 2008 – Blyth purchased a 43.6% equity interest for $14.0 million.[4][7] By 2010 the company had returned to profitability, and ViSalus was making over $15 million a month.[8] Blyth completed the second phase of the takeover in 2011, investing an additional $2.5 million and increasing their ownership share to 57.5%.[9]

In August 2012, Blyth – which then owned a 73% share of Visalus – planned to spin off the company in an initial public offering of shares worth up to $175 million. In September 2012, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Blyth's credit from "stable" to "negative,"[10] ViSalus reported extremely high growth rates in 2012, being audited at 450%, which made it one of the fastest growing companies of its size. Despite this, Blyth stated that the company's growth was not properly valued.[6] Blyth withdrew the Visalus IPO citing uncertain market conditions.[11]

In 2013, ViSalus launched in the United Kingdom.[12] On February 18, 2014, ViSalus announced its expansion to Germany and Austria.[13]


In October 2013, charges were filed in US Federal Court that Nick Sarnicola and Blake Mallen on behalf of ViSalus committed Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations, and engaged 3rd party individuals to commit criminal acts, extortion, among other violations against Fred Ninow & Ken Dunn of Ocean Avenue.[14]

Pyramid scheme accusations[edit]

CNBC Commentator Herb Greenberg said ViSalus walks "a controversial line between legal direct selling and pyramid scheme."[15]

ViSalus was investigated by the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation which published a detailed report that assailed the company's business model and high probability that investors will lose their money in the scheme.[6][16]


Weight-management products, including Vi-Shape meal replacement shake, Visalus Go Instant Energy and Vi-Trim Clear Control Drink Mix, form the bulk of the company's sales.[4] Other products include Neuro, an energy drink, and Vi-Pak, an energy supplement, which were both developed by Michael Siedman, an ear, nose, and throat specialist.[2] Visalus promotes its products with the Body by Vi Challenge, a program where people set weight-loss and physical fitness goals to be achieved over a 90 day period.[17][18][19]


  1. ^ ViSalus. "ViSalus Careers. About Us.". Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Pill Power". Metroactive. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Blyth, Inc., Form 10-K, Annual Report, Filing Date Mar 14, 2013". Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Edgar Online via Yahoo Finance. "Blyth Inc. 10K - 4/18/2011". Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Giang, Vivian (14 August 2012), How This Guy Went From Gang Member To Multimillionaire Entrepreneur, Business Insider, retrieved 10 February 2013 
  6. ^ a b c Boyd, Roddy (26 November 2012). "The Infernal Machine: From Powder to Dust". Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  7. ^ DM News. "Blyth Makes Two Acquisitions". Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  8. ^ Schawbel, Dan (8 August 2011). "Entrepreneurship: Nothing to Lose and Everything to Gain". Forbes. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Blyth, Inc. Completes Third Closing of ViSalus Acquisition". Reuters. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Moody's lowers outlook on Blyth". Bloomberg Businessweek. September 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  11. ^ Blyth's ViSalus unit pulls plans for IPO, Marketwatch, 26 September 2012, retrieved 10 February 2013 
  12. ^ "Visalus Launches in the United Kingdom (press release)". 24 April 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "ViSalus, Inc. Expands to Germany and Austria". February 18, 2014. 
  14. ^ Tina Williams (October 30, 2013). "Ocean Avenue Hits ViSalus With Espionage Lawsuit". Archived from the original on January 22, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ Greenberg, Herb (24 August 2012), Beware of Get-Rich-Quick IPO, CNBC, retrieved 1 March 2013 
  16. ^ National Council Against Health Fraud, Consumer Health Digest #13-10, March 7, 2013
  17. ^ Kitt Walsh. "Be a kick butt entrepreneur". CNN Money. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Supplement Maker's Sales Appear Up to 'Challenges'". Los Angeles Business Journal: 10–12. 30 April 2012. 
  19. ^ "The Changing Face of Commerce". Nutrition Business Journal (Direct Sales Channels: Internet, MLM, Media) XVII (4): 3–4. 1 April 2012.