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Zwift Lays Off Employees in Move to Focus on Developing New Hardware

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This past Friday, Zwift laid-off a number of employees in a move the company described as being made to allow them to “develop new hardware”. The positions being eliminated, according to various industry sources that were informed by Zwift on Friday, included the VP of Running, the Director of Global Business Development, Partnerships Director of Esports, as well as the VP of Digital Commerce.

Zwift confirmed the layoffs, issuing the following statement:

“Zwift has implemented difficult, but important changes to reorganize the business. These are strategic changes that have been made to better support the continued growth and development of the core subscription business and to allow us to develop new hardware. These are not decisions resulting from external circumstances. Zwift remains healthy as a business and we firmly believe these changes will result in a better product for our Zwift community.”

Zwift went onto say that the move had been in the works for some period of time, and that the timing has nothing to do with COVID-19 or any “financial considerations”.  Instead, that these were part of a “strategic reorganization”.

The company did note that those who were laid-off “are receiving packages to help them remain secure over the next few months”. Most of the employee names and positions that have been passed around appear to be more executive or director in nature, rather than lower-level employees.

Finally, Zwift, would not however confirm the exact number of individuals that were laid-off, nor a complete list of all titles or impacted groups.

The New Hardware Angle:

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For the sake of discussion, we can set aside whether or not the layoffs were strategic direction shifts or the results of external factors. However, what’s most unexpected is the specific reasoning being given, which included these very specific six words: “allow us to develop new hardware”.

Zwift could have ended that sentence prior to those words, and nobody would have been the wiser or questioned it. Save perhaps, all their partners who just saw their partner managers get axed. Zwift depends on partners for their platform to function. For example, without trainer companies or sensor companies – there is no Zwift. Without integration to software platforms like Strava or TrainingPeaks to upload their completed workouts to, or pull structured workouts from, people would be less likely to use Zwift. Or for Zwift to be able to sell trainers on their website, they depend on working with people across the industry. All the people that these companies work directly with to try and ensure smooth operations and longer-range planning are now gone.

However, even more than that, Zwift states in their official statement that a key reason for this layoff wasn’t just to re-focus on its roots (or some other typical corporate platitude), but to double-down and focus on developing new hardware to compete with their partners (the trainer companies).

That’s basically the equivalent of taking the ball, going home, and then yelling a ‘Yo momma’ joke over your shoulder as you strut away.

You’ll remember, this is hardly Zwift’s first confirmation that they’re coming for trainer companies’ lunch. Back in November, Zwift announced the creation of a new hardware division that’ll ultimately be focused on creating indoor training products. That division announced new employee positions that specifically required skills in areas around deconstructing partner products, as well as technical expertise in rapid prototyping of various smart trainer technologies. I don’t believe there’s ever been a more transparent list of job postings to a tech company’s external website. About the only thing missing was the product name and logo, plus a planned announcement date.

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[The hardware testing storage room at Zwift HQ, April 2019]

Now, ultimately while I think that Zwift’s development of an indoor smart bike and/or trainer is bad for consumer choice (as they’ll eventually reduce features available to other products), it is probably the correct move for Zwift as a company business-wise in order to offer a simple and cohesive indoor experience. One only need to look at Peloton’s success to see that, a company that’s far bigger than Zwift in memberships, and growing faster than Zwift (though, given recent COVID-19 related surges, we’ll have to see where the growth rates land in a few months). Still, the timing of Zwift axing their partnership leads is questionable at best.

While Zwift says that COVID-19 wasn’t a factor in the layoffs (in terms of triggering them), I’d actually argue it should have been. Not for the employees (though, that too), but because this is a poor time to try and design and then launch a product that you have no experience doing. Within the next few weeks you’ll likely see the entire global supply of smart trainers evaporate. We’ve already seen that over the last five days on certain models from certain companies. Some of these companies have had the most successful sales weeks in the history of their existences.

But there’s also a cliff-like reality to that. Once these stocks disappear, there’s no easy button to getting them back as governments start to shut non-essential businesses. For example Elite, which produces all of their trainers in Northern Italy is required to shut-down operations on Thursday through till Apr 3rd, which assumes the Italian government will allow business/manufacturing to resume then. Or take Tacx, which produces all their trainers near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. They are already facing social distancing measures by the government that will undoubtedly only increase as the days and weeks go on. The same too applies to Saris, who produce all their trainers in Wisconsin. Supply chains are fickle things, just as much as manufacturing is.

At first glance Wahoo, who produces their trainers in China and Vietnam, would seem to be in a better position now to weather this, as business slowly gets back to some normalcy. Except that ignores the reality that eventually those trainers have to make it to peoples’ homes around the world. The retailers that sell those trainers are steadily shutting their doors, and the online warehouses that send those trainers are also being closed due to government shut-downs. And the couriers and companies that might deliver those trainers will eventually be told to focus on critical consumer goods only, as they already are doing voluntarily in some countries.

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So why would this affect Zwift? Well, because this would have ideally been the time to *increase* integration with these partners and products. There’s countless tech-level software-focused integrations that Zwift could have focused on short-term that would bring value to users.

And unlike these companies, Zwift doesn’t already have the infrastructures and tooling in place to start meaningful new hardware product development. Their partners’ companies don’t have to spend 4-8 months going back and forth with their component suppliers (often in-person to inspect parts/tooling) to produce more trainers of existing models. They just have to figure out how to get factories flowing to consumers again. Whereas Zwift is largely still back at Step Zero.

Unless…we’re talking an acquisition.

The only route to Zwift making meaningful progress towards launching a new smart bike before 2022 is via acquisition. While a few months ago I would have said they could have maybe hit a Fall 2021 date on their own, COVID-19 has shot any of that out the window. The earliest most optimistic timeframe any US or European company is likely to get back to even partial normalcy is at best early summer. And likely, it’s way longer than that. effectively, Zwift will have lost 4-8 months of time. Thus again, acquisition.

And that, that’s why I suspect this shift is being made. It’s a preemptive move to clean house before they acquire a company already in the space. The problem being, acquiring anyone right now is basically acquiring a frozen block of boxed chopped spinach. By itself it’s not terribly useful. Without employees at work, and manufacturing lines running, it won’t really get them anything short or medium term. Even if they were to acquire Wattbike for their Wattbike Atom X product (which, I’ve long said makes the most sense), that’s mostly a frozen asset given the UK (like almost every country) is sliding towards closing up non-essential businesses.

So whatever Zwift’s plans are here, the impacts of it won’t be near-term.

Going Forward:

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It’s somewhat ironic that an industry that builds products to be able to avoid going outside and contacting people in real-life, is being impacted by a pandemic that forces people indoors to use their products. But the challenge isn’t just physical hardware. As anyone who’s been trapped at home these last few weeks trying to telework (WFH) will tell you: Toddlers running around gluing biscuits to windows during a conference call make it difficult to work efficiently.

But as pointed out last week by someone at a major sports tech company – it’s more than that. There’s a lot of people at these companies doing software development or other jobs that have largely never worked from home. For some of them, it’s a big adjustment, even without toddlers or family to care for. Be it their daily routines, or how to communicate well with people no longer just over the cubical wall, is tough. It’s skewering product release schedules and announcements on a weekly basis – even for the most agile of companies. For hardware companies, it’s far more difficult. They can no longer simply send someone to their manufacturing partner for a few weeks to get through tough spots. They can’t easily disassemble products and put them on automated test rigs. Because those rigs are in closed down facilities.

Thus, while I suspect long term this move makes sense, it seems ill-timed at best. And probably for the short term will hurt the company when they realize they’ve just reduced the communications conduits with the very companies they currently depend on for their platform to work.

As for running. Yeah, I don’t think that story ends well. The slicing of the VP of Running division is probably an acknowledgment that while noble, running in Zwift is but a fraction of the people using Zwift. This past weekend Zwift hit a new high of 20,000+ concurrent users on the platform. How many of those people were runners? Perhaps a few hundred? Let’s be overly generous and pretend it was 1,000. Even by that metric, we’re talking a mere 5% of their revenue.

Except, that’s right – Zwift doesn’t charge for running. So 0% revenue, and 5% user base (again, in reality, I suspect it’s 1-2% at best). One could be optimistic and say that Zwift is probably ahead of its time for an indoor running platform. With ‘ahead of its time’ meaning that the cost of a decent running treadmill with any integrated tech is still far too expensive for most consumers (nevermind far too clunky and sometimes a poor user experience – even Peloton struggles here with Tread on cost/size/adoption). I don’t see that changing for at least 3-5 years. And then that ignores the less optimistic aspect that runners can and do tend to run outdoors more regularly in crappy winter weather than most cyclists are willing to put up with.

Still, Zwift’s CEO Eric Min, did post to Facebook earlier today that running isn’t dead yet, saying:

“Does this mean running is less important? No, not at all. Running isn’t going anywhere and it will get more attention over time. We just felt the way we were organised to support it wasn’t set up for success. It is absolutely core to the Zwift experience as will other modalities when they come online. On the whole, we will be investing MORE in the product than ever before. I hope this sheds some light for everyone.”

With that – hope everyone is enjoying as best as possible racking up their locked-down miles indoors. Stay safe, and thanks for reading!

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110 Comments

  1. Sam

    Are they pulling the plug on esport too?

  2. julesd

    I just bought a home trainer and am testing out zwift. On windows when you save a session it just dumps you out of the software. The forum shows this problem has been there for years so a bit worrying that it is not fixed. Also you are sort of stuck with two choices of where to ride each day, so the roads are just clogged at the moment, more choice needed! If they are going in another direction eg hardware will the software suffer?

    • I’ve never seen the save feature/dump to windows to be a big issue. When I first started using it, it annoyed me as I had to go back in to look at new achievements or gear. Two years later, love it. Save and I’m already on the way to the shower.

      And if you search zwift hacks you simple edit 1 text file in say notepad and you can ride any course on any day. No it wont have 1000s in it, maybe 5-25 but you can still ride any course then and sometimes get a PR.

    • Tomas

      Unless you are planning to ride 5 hours a day on Zwift you are fine. There are plenty of roads and scenery.

  3. Klaus Ditze

    I am surprised that Ziwft is not able to publish their eSports races for professionals now. This was planned for winter, as you hear from reliable sources. There are already UCI regulations. The professional teams would certainly be grateful to be able to present themselves in races.

  4. It’s somehow funny…

    Bkool sells their hardware division to focus on software development.

    Meanwhile, Zwift makes drastic changes in seek of developing new hardware.

    We’ll see who was right soon enough.

  5. richpick

    Maybe the hardware they are concentrating on is in the running space since there isn’t much competition in the affordable/integrated space….that might be an easier nut for them to crack

  6. Orn

    OTOH valuations for both public and privately-held companies have dropped 30-70%, so it’s an opportune time for discount acquisitions. Are any of the trainer companies holding high levels of debt or otherwise financially stressed? It might just be a case of making a strategic move by picking over the bargain bin…

  7. Konstantin Kleine

    I don’t have as much insights into the indoor training software market as you do, but I feel that Zwift is not big or important enough to discontinue supporting third party hardware. Could it be a bit of an iOs vs Android situation? Apple provides a closed system, like Peloton, which allows them to control hard- and software, making it run very smooth, but hasn’t made them the biggest player in the market (also a result of the higher costs). Android runs less smooth, but on a lot of different devices. Is there enough room for a second Apple, or Peloton, in the indoor training market? What is your estimation on this?

    • I don’t see Zwift cutting off 3rd parties entirely.

      I see them hampering 3rd parties. It’ll be one little feature here, and then another there. But those features won’t be available to 3rd party hardware companies. Or maybe they’ll charge a licensing fee to use those features, which makes it less competitive for 3rd parties. Over time, consumers will simply end up buying the Zwift solution because the Wahoo/Elite/Tacx/Saris/whoever solution misses the ‘cool new thing’ that Zwift has just added to their hardware.

    • Dave

      Ray I see it more as a way to avoid having to herd the cats. Kickr Climb, Elite Sterzo, Tacx bike, etc. etc. At least if they have a bike, they can start to set the standards for others to have to follow. It would be in their interest to innovate on the hardware side, promote standards and have others follow suit rather than make things proprietary.

    • In theory yes, but in practice there’s no company that has eschewed (for years) the trainer companies efforts to get on-board standards and standard practices. For example:

      Wahoo KICKR: Zwift doesn’t actually use the full API’s here to pre-send elevation data to the KICKR, so it’s more laggy than other apps. They had this before anyone else.
      Tacx Road Feel: Zwift took something like 5 months this winter to toggle this enabled for the NEO 2T on all platforms, despite being already available on the NEO 1/2 trainers.
      Elite Sterzo with smarts: It was announced last August, they had units well before then. It’s still not implemented.
      Tacx Bike: Steering is built into the bike, still not implemented, nor gear shifting – same with Wahoo bike.

      All of these companies have offered to ensure things are standard across the board, and shared their standards. Wahoo and Tacx worked together on ideas for how to display bike shifting within the existing ANT+/BLE specs. Heck, there’s even a spec for that already.

      I’m sure it’s hard to see sometimes from the outside, but the amount of times Zwift has shrugged and not followed standards or even tried to work together with these companies on tech-related standards is astounding. There’s been summer after summer of trainer company events, and nothing has come of it – largely because if Zwift doesn’t make the move, nobody else will bother.

    • David

      Your comment explains a lot but also asks several questions, namely: Given the litany of things you’ve outlined here, what exactly are they doing with my $15/mo x how many users? Clearly not software development. I was hoping for some UI improvements (the list long) this winter, but if there were any they were minor in nature (eg, I still have no idea how much of my route is left, and why do I need to pair sensors to do anything not ride-related?).

      It’s nice they want to build hardware and all but that’s not really helping their current customers already invested in expensive trainers. TrainerRoad has been working well for me, so without new elements (ie worlds, roads) or improved experience I’ll be looking for a different distraction this winter.

    • Let’s assume a number of 350,000 users – so that’s roughly $5.2M a month (ignoring taxes/etc…), or $62M/year.

      I think the number of employees is roughly 200 right now. So, for fun, we’ll assume the average employee costs is $125,000 year. It’s likely more. The bulk of the talent that Zwift would need would be looking at $100K/year+ salaries in the metro areas that Zwift is working with. Some people less, some people more, but I suspect that’s a safe bet. That also ignores benefits, which you can bet are another 20-40% of the headcount cost

      So yeah, they should easily be able to cover even $150K/year per employee cost (which would only be $30M).

      The challenge is marketing. And that’s where Zwift spends deep, and always has. All those events around the world in bikes shops (well, until recently anyways). Spending big at trade shows. Spending big for TV adverts and buying out millions of views on YouTube adverts. For example, if you look at Zwift’s channel and sort backwards by most popular videos*, you’ll see it’s all 30-31 second adverts, upwards of nearly 5 million views. That’s not people going to watch those videos organically, that’s Zwift using those videos as YouTube adverts on other videos. That costs money. How much? Not a ton in the grand scheme of things, but that’s just one channel. There’s likely similiar spend on other platforms. The same goes for takeovers of various online sites you see, which is expensive, quick.

      Then there’s the cost of paying the various athletes they sponsor, as well as other communities they support. Then there’s costs related to the various events that Zwift puts on that are larger-scale (think UCI-level). Now, some of these Zwift also has revenue from, such as bike brand sponsors or trainer sponsors – so there’s some revenue there too.

      Plus finally, normal operational costs. They’ve got super-expensive real-estate in downtown Long Beach. They’ve got server costs to deal with, costs of stuff like infrastructure, etc… It all adds up.

      Ultimately though, the spend that Zwift lays out in marketing related efforts is massive – especially in the lens compared to any other company out there. One only has to go to a Zwift event (which are always exceedingly well run), to see that.

      *https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeOCqLG5Wy65aiENWfuFzUQ/videos?view=0&sort=p&flow=grid

    • Marek

      Or they miss the boat by going one step too far and people switch en mass to another platform. Tech is a fickle market both for companies moving up but also crashing down.

  8. Roger

    VCs like software investments because the revenue to cost ratio becomes way more advantageous as growth occurs, manufacturing not so much. Thus I am a bit puzzled as to why Zwift’s investors think this strategy enhances the firm’s valuation.

    • Everyone gets distracted by Peloton easily. On multiple levels.

      The problem is, as Peloton has discovered with Tread, building higher end fitness equipment is expensive and tricky. Peloton can mostly pretend Tread isn’t a failure, because their bike does so well. But if Tread had been a runaway success, we wouldn’t see Peloton working on a cheaper and more practical version of Tread (till Coronavirus anyway). In many ways though, what’s needed for a proper Zwift bike is basically a Wahoo KICKR Bike merged with a Peloton. In other words, add a screen to a KICKR Bike.

      I know some people don’t want screens on a KICKR Bike, but that’s the piece that allows it to be totally cohesive as a product offering. The screen *IS* the magic glue as to why Peloton works, because “it just works”.

      However, as Wahoo knows, making the KICKR Bike is *really hard*, and they’ve got years and years of experience getting them to that point. Yet the price point at $3,500 hasn’t translated into the success levels that we see with Peloton. They’re probably at 1/500ths the number of bikes right now (obviously, much later).

      In order for Zwift to succeed here, they’re gonna have to find a way to offer a KICKR Bike with a screen for roughly what Peloton is pricing theirs at ($2,200). And do it with way better margins than Wahoo. Peloton’s margins are crazy good on their bike, because their component costs are lower because the tech, screen aside, is simplistic spin-bike tech. Anyway…

    • EV

      Which is why it makes no sense to go with the kickr bike. Way too complex, and the climb feature is totally not needed. The stages bike is probably the simpler model to follow, and might even give them a platform to take on Peloton for the home exercise market. After all, the spin experience could be so much better with automatic resistance control. And that market is way bigger. They could satisfy zwift newbies and peloton spouses with one bike and start a whole peloton like exercise class service and their valuation would jump. Well, once we’re done with this whole apocalypse thing.

    • usr

      Zwift is notoriously overfunded so no matter where they succeed, they don’t succeed hard enough.

      Winter entertainment for us road cycling nerds? Won that market, turns out it’s much too small to offset the funding. Focus on running, there are so many more runners, it must be good, right? Turns out runners are not as used to showering their fitness hobby in money as road cyclists. Focus on competitive e-sports, look how flashy that is! Turns out that this is an excellent way to *spend* money, but it has zero business value beyond defending the already strong position with road cycling nerds, it won’t grow that market or any other. Next up: there’s this company called peloton…

    • EV

      Exactly. Their only path to VC level growth is the peloton exercise market. They need hardware to go after that, and there’s no reason a good zwift bike couldn’t double as a peloton killer spin bike.

  9. Jason

    The VP of Running, who was an original exec, was just on the Zwiftcast a few months ago as well talking about the future of running. Awkward!

  10. Joel

    I suspect that it may be a merger instead of an acquisition given the near promotion of Wahoo on the website. Thoughts?

    • True mergers are very rare (where both sides are equal). Most mergers are simply acquisitions carefully spun. Brands work with Zwift on promotions, which rotate constantly. If it’s not Wahoo one month, it’s Elite the next, and so on.

      /// Also, because I read your comment wrong the first time, here’s my thoughts on Zwift acquiring Wahoo

      I don’t think there’s any scenario that results in Zwift acquiring Wahoo. Mostly, because short of managing to convince investors to splay out a ton of cash, Zwift can’t afford Wahoo at this point. Wahoo’s valuation only continues to climb with huge growth, and their longer term pipeline seems primed to accelerate that.

      Wahoo’s under significant equity partnership now*, and NEP knows that Wahoo’s in a good spot. Frankly, at this point Wahoo could probably have an easier time with NEP to acquire Zwift than the other way around.

      *https://peprofessional.com/2018/07/nep-invests-wahoo-fitness/

    • Thomas

      Wahoo recently acquired TheSufferfest. What advantage would it provide having 2 online training platforms under one hood?

    • Ian

      “… and their longer term pipeline seems primed to accelerate that.”

      OOOOH! Let me guess, a purple elemnt bolt? Tickr2 that still uses a button cell? 😉

    • Tony G

      And per NEP’s press release, NEP’s fitness club spin studios may be feeling pressure from Peloton.

      “NEP’s experience in the active lifestyle sector includes Movati Athletic, a fitness club operator in Canada (acquired in October 2014); The Edge Fitness, a fitness club operator on the East Coast (acquired in December 2014); Christy Sports, a winter sports specialty retailer (acquired in October 2015)…”

      I’ll repeat what I wrote in Feb last year when Garmin bought Tacx… its all about Peloton. Cyclists who read Ray’s reviews (us) comprise a very small market when compared to the market of fitness enthusiast who attend spin classes.

    • BossertDM

      While technically TheSufferfest is a software, I think of it more as a training library than a competitor to Zwift of any other Virtual training software. I think if Wahoo were to acquire Zwift you would see all TheSufferfest workouts integrated into Zwift and then have a workout option of riding on the roads of Zwift or watching TheSufferfest integrated video. That being said I suspect Garmin is more likely, they have the cash and I can’t see Garmin passing and allowing it to go to Wahoo if Zwift is really up for acquisition.

  11. Martin

    I suspect what is going on here is that Zwift wants to create the ultimate Zwift experience and that experience will be exclusively available to Zwift hardware.

    • Thomas

      That was also what first came to my mind. Zwift recent development of gravel sectors, MTB track, etc. require special hardware for full experience. With Zwift’s own hardware they won’t have to rely on 3rd party to support their new software features and potentially can drive this development forward.

  12. Sam

    Zwift is the only thing keeping me sane these days, when I am all by myself confined in my cave with no pastas and flour at the super market.. please don’t f it up mister zwift

  13. Simon

    If they restrict esports/racing it’ll make no difference to me _but_ if they start to restrict more fundamental aspects of Zwift to those with their hardware it’ll be a no from me.

    • RuBo

      I am rather of the opinion that esports/racing will be the new driving force for the future of Zwift and that therefore a new kind of hardware has to come from Zwift, which will specifically address the topic of racing. Wired, with control and brakes. Zwift will have to wait until all the contracts of the professional teams are changed in such a way that the professionals will also have the contractual permission from their employers to compete on Zwift in parallel. And in general, who knows if the climate changes in the next few years will make it possible to ride outside at all, like these eternally long stages of the TdF with 230km in a stretch at midsummer.

  14. Ben

    “Toddlers running around gluing biscuits to windows during a conference call make it difficult to work efficiently.”

    Gah, I wish my kid was still at that stage. Now he just sits behind me and whines about how he wants to play Minecraft on my computer!

  15. Luca

    Ray I think you’re overlooking a very important point: the experience of hooking a trainer and all the related sensors to Zwift is generally terrible. I’m an engineer based in Italy, and in these quarantine days I’ve spent hours on the phone trying to help friends complete their setup with new hardware. Some examples
    -Computer not finding ant+ HR sensors
    -Android requiring location permissions to locate BLE devices
    -People pairing their pedal power meters in place of the controllable trainers
    -Rides are uploaded from their Garmin and the Zwift ones disappear from Strava

    What Zwift can do with its own hardware, is controlling its ecosystem like Apple does (as Konstantin mentions): buy the Zwift hardware, and it sets it up itself pretty much how the Apple Watch and Airpods do. Strava is automatically connected, any bike-computer turned on in the room is ignored, etc. That’s with the best experience for the customer in mind.

    Ultimately though I agree that with proprietary connections and features, third party trainers will miss on cool new features and slowly move outside of the main picture.

    • Oh – I think you might have misunderstood me. I totally agree the 3rd party experience sucks. Horribly so. I even argue that from a business standpoint, it makes sense for Zwift to make their own thing (using Peloton as an example in my post).

      That said, there’s zero reason why they can’t work with companies today to make everything far better than it is. There’s so many cool tech ideas that can be implemented in software or minor hardware tweaks to create a much cleaner experience here.

    • Chris Benten

      Zwift is a piece of cake compared to BKool and Fulgaz (Windows version – Beta?). They are a nightmare; I dropped BKool because their big update a couple of months ago crapped everything and I could not get it back. I need to give Fulgaz another try. I have had virtually no issues with Zwift via Ant+ to my laptop.

    • Luca

      TBH I don’t think it is feasible to ensure a great customer experience without controlling both hardware and software. Not sure about your personal experience, but the average cyclist in Italy isn’t very comfortable with technology and will eventually continue ride with his Garmin in place of spending an afternoon trying to fix their Zwift setup.

      Certainly Zwift could work with 3rd parties to improve, but there are too many players out there and it would never be a seamless and uniform experience, especially if we consider how many people are riding with older (or soon to be) hardware. Only techies like us will be fine in the medium term.

      Also, as we move more and more to virtual group rides and racing, it stinks to be in the draft of someone who sends estimated power through its speed sensor, or also to compete with someone pulling 1000W in the Alpe Du Zwift descent.
      I hate the entire fact that we can all hammer down power in -10% descents because Zwift has to support also people on non-smart trainers.

      To me it looks like the days with Zwift trying to support the most hardware are soon to be forgotten, and now that the user base is growing more than ever it is the right move to start preparing to catch the segment of people who will soon need to buy a new trainer because otherwise they won’t be able to join the next Tour Of Watopia race.

    • I think there are ways we can get closer and closer to it.

      A) Why does Zwift ask to seperately pair cadence on a smart trainer? Just do it, unless the user tells you otherwise.
      B) Why can’t Zwift be smarter about pairing in general, in 99% of house-holds, there’s only one smart trainer. Just pair the darn thing and then ask a simple confirmation box. Same goes for HR strap.
      C) Zwift has the ANT+ ID’s of every power meter on the market (heck, I do too), it’s easy to figure out what’s a power meter from a trainer, again, this should be all automatic.
      D) Zwift should know whether to pair via BLE or ANT+

      Mind you, other apps are just as guilty on this front. Nobody seems to be thinking about how to optimize the first time flow.

    • Luca

      Agree with all your points, these are all no-brainers and certainly easy wins.

      More in general I believe that in the next 3-5 years, as more people come on board, there will be the concept of Zwift as a stand-alone experience.
      And soon after there won’t be such thing as a smart trainer for most: people will “buy Zwift”, which includes an indoor bike with its own graphic processor and (finally) ergonomic controls.

      Who continues with the old setup won’t have the full experience, pushing more people to buy Zwift’s HW. And that’s the strategy I would pursue if I was an investor sitting on the board.

    • Eric

      Agree. I use TR more times than not and only sub to zwift a month or two a year. TR just works when it comes to pairing

    • Konstantine Poukhov

      That is assuming that every cyclist wants Zwift and nothing else. I agree about Zwift being dominant in a big way, but being the only solution to everyone – I do not think it is actually the case.

    • Joseph Greenwell

      I hadn’t used FulGaz in over a year and I tried it last night because I figured it must have improved. That is not the case. I tried it on my pc, iPad, and iPhone. It works really well on the iPhone but there just isn’t a good way to get it on the big screen. I need to retry with my atv4k and see if it will even run a decent stable video.

    • Fitz

      Zwift is expanding their TAM to include the massive world of people interested in home fitness who don’t know what the Fk Ant+ is and never will because this model of piecing together multiple bits of 3rd party tech is a nightmare for the average consumer and it does. Not. Scale.

  16. Mike

    I wish there was a “game” competitor to Zwift. I don’t care at all about riding with others, endless meaningless stats about stuff I don’t care about on the main page. All I want is a virtual landscape mapped to my trainer and basic stats, training plans.

  17. Michael Dunn

    Perhaps even more telling is how uncaring this move is to the individuals that have been laid off. At a time when Zwift is seeing perhaps it’s greatest increase in subscriptions, a company that is thriving during the COVID-19 outbreak, they chose to lay off a number of people who’ll have no chance of finding employment for the foreseeable future. Given all the reasons and difficulties Ray outlined in his post for Zwift to pursue a hardware venture in this coming year, laying off anyone seems shockingly insensitive for a company that is actually growing during this time.

    They could have continued to operate as is, and then made the move when things settled down, easing the burden and anxiety of these unfortunate individuals that find themselves without a job and without medical benefits. I’ll be ending my Zwift subscription today, and using TrainerRoad exclusively!

    • Mark H

      I agree it’s a poor way to treat one’s employees and is probably bad for morale.

      On the other hand, all the employees most likely already knew through the grapevine that there was a layoff happening, they just didn’t know exactly who was affected. This provides them with quick closure instead of having a sword hanging over them the whole indefinite duration of the emergency.

      Getting the layoffs over now is better for the mental health of everyone in the company, and better for the company because now the people left can get on with their work instead of worrying.

      One hopes Zwift extends the benefits of those laid off, and extend their full time pay like some other companies are doing for employees who cannot work right now.

      As Ray said, it’s not like Zwift is hurting. How it treats these (former) employees will show the true character of the company.

    • usr

      Depends. If it’s really just VP level employees then they’d continue to be influential and push “their” topics if they were only functionally demoted but not fired. People on that level often become an enemy within when pushed aside but not outside. But the risk of being let go at the worst moment was surely priced into the compensation they enjoyed before.

      If it also affects lower level employees I’m fully on board with your critique. Those would usually be happy to get reassigned to the new hottest internal project.

    • I see both side of the lay-offs. My concern is more around the impact on the larger industry (and then ultimately, consumers). Zwift essentially got ride of that conduit. Sure, Zwift has told their partners no big deal, they’re still here for them, etc…

      But Zwift forgets that it was already challenging for these partners to get technical related projects and fixes through to Zwift. Every company has complained about how many months it can take to get minor things addressed with their products. Often requests (and hardware that was sent) falling into never-answered inboxes. Perhaps assigning new people will fix that (probably not, since it was usually that first layer that laid off that actually did their jobs well here in trying).

      Despite what some people think or read-into this post, I don’t have any issue with a restructuring. There’s a lot I think Zwift could internally restructure – and I think most people close to Zwift (or within it), would heavily agree with that. My issue is the cutting of that entire layer of partner people, irrespective of names or even job losses, doesn’t seem like it’s going to in any way help consumers via the products that make up 100% of the Zwift base today. And no part of the statement Zwift provided says to the contrary. It says straight-up they’re going to shift focus to their own hardware.

  18. RobbieL

    In the Zwift Power Up podcast episode with Jan Frodeno, he mentions that he just received a “fancy treadmill” from Zwift. Wonder if that’s from a partner brand or could it be a prototype?

  19. Martin

    FYI, I think the “smart” rollers are a better option for racing than a stationary trainer. I have both the Elite Nero rollers and Tacx 2T and I totally prefer the rollers due to the sense of biking realism they provide…

  20. Fred Lee

    The minute they start defeaturing my third-party trainer, or slowly decreasing support for it, either intentionally or because they’re focusing on their own product, is the minute I leave the platform.

    I’m a software guy, and I value open interfaces. I don’t want to live in someone else’s silo, and be locked into their ecosystem. All these companies hire a marketing guy, get a little too big for their britches, and inevitably get smacked by the market. Witness Strava a couple years ago deciding that they owned our data and we weren’t allowed to download it.

    Garmin succeeded for a while because they were the only game in town. That’s not true anymore, and even they have had to lessen their grip on their closed protocols.

    Spurning their hardware partners and trying to go it alone is a sure way for Zwift to fail.

  21. agzand

    I think they are better off buying an existing trainer maker. There are already too many out there, and it takes time to develop a decent trainer.

  22. When Zwift initially made it clear they were getting into hardware, it seemed like the spin was that they wanted to make a bike that could be used for eSports and pro-team racing. Now that they’re cutting a high-level eSports job and saying that the reason is so they can focus on hardware, it seems like the original spin was either off, or perhaps they have changed course. Whatever the case may be, I like Zwift but I also prefer open platforms and the benefits of many partner integrations. I only want to see Zwift expand their partnerships, not the opposite.

  23. David E.

    Triathletes everywhere would pay a lot of money for Zwift swimming right about now. Just sayin’.

  24. Ernesto Acosta

    A well written, thoughtful article. ZWIFT may be, in the short run at least, cutting their own throat. There are lots of platforms, with full hardware integration, competing for ZWIFT’s business. People may start looking for alternatives if ZWIFT drops support for the current trainer companies.

  25. ..Alien King..

    I believe for the sake of a good article read that in looking @ Eric Mins comment that the company will keep thriving after he is gone. This is a hint there are already talks in the pipeline for a buyout. Who is this company? Without a doubt it will be Garmin as they have the capital and are moving forward being a dominant presence in the cycling world.

    Why?
    They have the hardware (Tacx)
    They have the software (Zwift)
    They have the cash
    They are willing to work with other companies hand in hand without the fear of coexisting

    They jump ahead of the curve and kill off running, IE all the cuts are pre manufactured to make the transition smooth as vanilla bean ice cream on a Texas Day in July. It would make perfect sense as Zwifts progression has dwindled to missing so many deadlines for cycling. Most of us have just stopped caring at this point and are just happy we have a place to ride.

    I believe this makes zwift better for us all. There are so many reason but the most basic is that Garmin is a winner and have proven that. While nothing personal against zwift year 5 and still not making cash grow on the trees of investors. This is demoralizing and the sounds of trumpets can be heard in the background.

    With so many irons in the fire Zwift seems like it is running around like a headless chicken. Perhaps it is different on the inside, but it doesnt look that way. Just a few zwiftcasts ago it was how running was still getting worked on and then axing of the running lead. The UI overhaul has poofed, many features promised Q4 are still not present in Q1 moving into Q2. Zwift seems to be swirling in the toilet bowl. I smell the acquisition about to happen. I am calling it Q3 of 2020 when zwift announces they have agreed to terms with Garmin.

  26. Tom Delano

    Great article! Thanks for writing it! This is shocking. I agree, this is the time to expand the indoor cycling community. Odd time to do this strategic re-org.

  27. ..Alien King..

    How can Esports be taken seriously?

    We have no direct plug in trainers…Instead we depend on bluetooth or ant+

    There is no real organization and not to take anything away from Zwift Power…When racers are allowed to blow up races instantly by entering into the wrong Cat(zwift fault not zwift power). That pretty much says things are a failure

    There is no magical way to make sure all “instant weight” from bluetooth scales that adjust zwift weight are accurate. I have 2 sets of electronic scales from the same company and same model etc….They each can vary by a poundish and the other factor 1 always weighs 3ish pounds more than the other. Then my pressure bearing scales weigh in between both of them most of the time.

    Whenever there is software it can be manipulated point blank

    Hardware is just another of the non realistic mass produced products that are at best perhaps at best 98% accurate at all times

    We have the never ending “internet ping drop” even if bikes had an ethernet port

    Now lets look at what would need to happen
    Bikes would need to have an ethernet port
    Bikes would need a seat that weighed you
    Bikes would need to have a tolerance of less than .25%
    Bikes would need integrated OS/PC type of software built in
    Bikes would need a perfect uninterrupted internet supply
    Bikes would need to be calibrated each and every time ridden
    Bikes would need to be tuned to “real world”(dis)advantages
    Bikes would need to be at a universal site
    Bike would need steering
    Bikes would need leaning
    Bikes would need braking
    The amount of time it would take to make the perfect machine will be a never ending array of reiterations and improvements over 10ish more years?

    That is just a few problems i see off the tip of my head

    • Mark McDermott

      I don’t think they need to address your laundry list. There are simple solutions that render almost that entire list moot. And besides, I don’t think the vast majority of people are looking for the realism you’re saying is needed. I know I don’t. I don’t want to steer or lean or anything. I think the way it is now is just about perfect with a few simple changes: 1) Move to a results based categorization system. Perform better in races, automatically get placed in higher categories just as in real life. 2) Put in some sort of drop out logic so if my power drops for a third of a second I am ok in the race.

      That’s really it. The rest are just quibbles that 98% of people don’t care about. Do I care if the guy I’m racing with has 155 on his profile instead of 155.5 (your .25%?). No way, who cares. Also no scale that is practical for a normal human has that level of accuracy/precision.

      Now would that stuff maybe be needed for professional eracing, I guess. But that’s like a 1-2% use case and honestly not that important.

  28. Tod

    “It is absolutely core to the Zwift experience as will other modalities when they come online.”

    That’s a bit of a weird phrasing. Anyone parse this?

  29. Peter

    Maybe ZWIFT is not planning to acquired, but a hardware company is planning to acquire them and they are preparing this move.

  30. My only wish is that Zwift would iron out and stable their existing platform as is and find a way to better support the multitude of race and ride event organisers to ensure the events are added correctly and in a timely manner (since it is the Zwift Community that do all of this generally for free and it is those people that truly make Zwift successful – often thinking up new ideas that Zwift do not have the resources or do not want to do for themselves).

    Once this is working as flawlessly as possible (ie correct distance counters, racers/riders not being steered off course, login system working and all the other frequent glitches), Zwift could then concentrate on other expansions into hardware etc

  31. Barry

    I’m still trying to figure out where all that investment money went from an end user perspective. Most of the platform was already built and most of the roads existed before that money came. The way I look at it:

    *I’m a MTBer and can care less about MTBing on Zwift. The whole point is to be in the woods and the adrenaline aspect.
    *Esports? Really? Last thing I want to spend my time watching. Maybe the younger generation, but that’s more about FPS games and the like, not watching the avatar of someone spinning a bicycle on a trainer
    *Racing and cheating – don’t care if people cheat, what I care about is people that put themselves in categories they don’t belong and ruin the experience for the 50% of us below the category average. Zwift has been nearly 100% tone deaf on this
    *They can’t even get the stupid fence to work on group rides. If I sign up for a ride that says 2.5-3.0 for 2 laps, race on third lap, that’s what I want, not a race the whole way through

    Controlling hardware doesn’t solve any of this. It would still be easy enough for those determined to cheat. I’ve loved Zwift from the (my) start over a couple of years ago, but I’m growing disillusioned with the lack of/negative progress.

  32. GC

    Could it just be that they wanted a different person in the running department? The VP of running was a cyclist, and a very good one at that (World Pursuit Champ), but he was not an elite level runner. I’m sure he would have been much more useful to the company developing track related cycling workouts or, dare I say, a velodrome based platform. Perhaps they are looking for someone from the running world to make the platform more enticing to runners. For instance, why is the interface so cluttered? It’s OK to digest all the information if you are stuck on a bike, but it’s unreadable if you are running, especially if you are using it on a treadmill and an iPhone or iPad. The pacing info is hidden on the right column in tiny letters. I can’t read that if I’m running.
    Pacing is one the most important metrics, it should be in giant letters in the top banner. Zwift needs to attract high level running talent to it’s platform and that is done by hiring high level runners to help develop the platform. Also, why haven’t they set up duathlon events? It seems that most of the runners they show in their advertisements are actually multisport athletes anyway.

  33. Mike B.

    Two words: %$&# move.

  34. Davis

    Hardware seems like a poor play. I travel a ton and enjoy peloton bikes at the hotels, but I would never own one since it’s a one trick pony. The Zwift open “eco-system” is a huge draw. I can do it all regardless of the hardware I own. If Zwift restricts features to their own hardware it would start to push me to check out other competitors.

  35. Briz

    The London job adverts that were there last week have all gone now. Filled or change of plan?

    • guyc

      Agree with Peter above. Most logical reason here is acquisition BY a hardware company, and it would have to be a large one. I’m guessing there’s only one large enough.

  36. Stephen Cooper

    Ray, it’s six words, not five.

  37. CJOttawa

    Excerpt from Eric Min’s quote: “It is absolutely core to the Zwift experience as will other modalities when they come online.”

    That “other modalities” stood out. They’ve rumbled about “rowing” going online but that’s been promised and passed over for years (latest goal-post was last Christmas) so I’m not holding my breath on that. Still makes me wonder what the next “modality” will be.

    • Yeah, I keep hearing about rowing, but I fail to see that being a viable mainstream market. Someone back a few months ago ran the numbers,and basically showed that if we thought indoor running was small (in terms of overlap of people that want to Zwift and want to run on a treadmill), then indoor running was even worse. And I’d agree with that.

      Still, there is something to be said for low-risk and low-effort type initiatives. For example, if Zwift can relatively easily (in the grand scheme of things) support Concept2 rowers or other platforms via the existing ANT+ standards, and then relatively easily add some lanes to the water, then that might make sense. Maybe. But even then, that seems like a stretch business-wise.

    • Stephen Jackson

      Perhaps this to capture the full triathlon experience. With the new hardware division, perhaps some smarts here would fill that swim gap? link to vasatrainer.com

    • Jeff Bloom

      Rowing may be bigger than you think. There are hundreds of University and club teams rowing indoors during the winter. Moreover, many former on the water rowers still row indoors since it is so much cheaper and more convenient. I also think the Zwift could implement rowing for a moderate cost. Instead of having on the water rowing, they could simulate a Rowbike or Rowcycle, and that way re-use all the roads and terrain they have created.

    • CJOttawa

      I agree it’s a tiny market but with infinitesimally low overhead. There’s nothing else out there (RowPro is essentially dead) so they stand to completely own university crews and rowing clubs everywhere. They have no competitors in that space. They already support the BikeERG with the PM5 so they have the hardware dev side done.

      Anyway, it’s all armchair quarterbacking – they’ll do what they want, not what the rowing community wants.

  38. Greg Olsen

    Thus article is filled with inaccurate information and incorrect assumptions. We are used to better from DC Rainmaker.

    • Care to specify what’s inaccurate?

    • Simon

      The number of employees is circa 300, not 200 as you said Ray. That’s after the layoffs. That makes a nonsense of your speculative math.

    • Thanks Simon.

      However, I didn’t specify any number of employees in the post itself.

      In a comment down below, someone asked about where money is going to and I made a swag (and said it’s a swag), to show how one can burn through that number pretty quickly using napkin math.

      As for Greg’s comment on what in the post is inaccurate, I’m still waiting.

      Cheers,
      Ray

  39. James

    Nice work making clicks off people’s careers ending – insensitive and inaccurate. No effort to seek and clarify things further when official comments have been made elsewhere – don’t be lazy and do your research and update, you only need to look in FB groups to see what has been said about running after last week’s decisions.

    It is great to see others in the industry i.e. Simon S on his Zwiftcast page being respectful stating that he will not be covering it – be more like him.

    This article was not needed, it seems you are speculating so much it seems given no official press release.

    Disappointing and insensitive

    • Wow, I’m impressed to see the paid Zwift folks are out in full force on this one across social media, trying to spin things.

      1) Simon is paid by Zwift – so of course he’s not going to cover it.
      2) Re research: I actually reached out to Zwift for specific comment before publishing, and gave them all weekend to put together their quote. It’s roughly the second paragraph of the piece.
      3) I included Eric’s FB comment on Zwift running in the post within a few mins of him publishing it.
      4) As for not posting about a company that decided to ax the bulk of their partner managers, despite being a company that as of today depends 100% on partners to operate, it seems pretty darn newsworthy.
      5) I’m not sure how sweeping the layoffs under the carpet is somehow “more respectful” to those who lost there jobs?
      6) I don’t know why Zwift Runners think this is going to end well for Zwift Running. Heck, in the Zwift Runners Group Facebook post where Stephone Cousins confirmed Mike’s departure after talking to Eric Min, he specifically noted a reduced focus on running for the future – saying “In the short term this may indeed mean a little less focus on running.”. Do people not read?

      So again, like I asked Greg, Simon, and yourself above. Explicitly state what’s incorrect. None of you have. Thus, in the meantime, stop trying to spin and obfuscate. Also, stop saying I’m saying things I’m not. Since it seems to be a challenge for some of you, I suggest using quotes when you’re trying to say I’m saying things.

    • Roger

      I for one appreciation your efforts to cover the business side of the fitness market. Covering private companies is really hard work. In this case you have properly given over the years a ton of earned media to Zwift. So I wanted your take on where Zwift is taking their business. FWIW I look at these developments thru the eyes of VCs. As you know every pitch book talks about growth and exit in detail. The ups and downs of the Peloton ipo must have played some role in the long term strategy call, the growth vs earnings calculus has change dramatically.

    • Paul Mason

      Good work Ray. I find your work to be extremely well informed, balanced and evidence-based. It must be very irritating when some of the above simply gloss over the detail, caveats and nuances you set out.

      Keep on keeping on

      Much love

      Paul

    • Pfont

      I’ve always found you guys tone deaf. Maybe drag your product out of beta quality which it has never surpassed. The engine is subpar, floating textures, collision detection, lighting, the workflow is absolutely terrible. You are succeeding in spite of yourself not because of any great qualities. See you in the graveyard of bungled management next to Netathlon.

    • simon schofield

      Hey Ray
      I hate silly spats on the interwebz as much as I’m sure you do, but I do need to correct a thing.
      Yup, I’m paid by Zwift. I make no secret of it. But, unusually in this sphere, I have always requested and been granted a contractual right of editorial independence. As long as nothing I say would lead to, I think the wording is something like “”disastrous damage to Zwift” I am free to say what I want. Contractually. This is at my behest but I do think it’s failry enlightened of Zwift and I can give you a categoric assurance that they have never, not once, asked me not to cover something.
      I WILL be covering the lay-offs in the next Ep, to be published in the next 24 hours. It did give me pause for thought because inevitably I do know some of the people involved. Hell, I’ve ridden in the wheels of some of them, so getting the tone right, being sensitive whilst recognising the potential importance of the re-org to Zwifters, was always going to be a bit of a challenge. I hope myself, and Shane and Nathan (who are in a broadly similar position in terms of their relationships inside the company although I know nothing of their specific contractual details) can get both tone and content right. I’m sure regular Listeners will let us know.

    • Paul Mason

      You are both bright, sensible, highly-respected figures in the Zwift community. I doubt there is a spat here – fair enough for Simon to clarify what he always says on every Zwiftcast and I very much doubt Ray meant to suggest otherwise. I’m on Team Both.

    • Thanks for the comment Simon – appreciate it.

      Good to hear it’ll be covered – and I agree that you’ve done a good job with the Zwiftcast over the years in finding that balance and editorial independence. And having met you in person a few times, I know you’re a pretty down to earth guy.

      I simply just dislike when people twist my words (and also apparently your words) to saying things that aren’t what we said. I’m sure people can find enough other things either of us have said over the years that they dislike to be upset about, without having to make up things.

      Cheers, and looking forward to the next episode!

  40. PRMaster Flash

    Let me suggest the message Zwift should have sent in response to your article: “Thank you for another interesting article on the fastest-growing and most dynamic virtual sports company in the world. While we recognize the current global circumstances could make our recent reorganization look insensitive, the timing reflects long-term planning and growth designed to ultimately serve the sports community best. It is worth noting that some of the information in your article isn’t completely accurate, but given the competitive nature of the sports industry we really can’t offer a correction without creating a bigger problem for us than the inaccurate info. In any case, your coverage is solid and appreciated, and Zwift gains tremendous value in hearing from your community given they are on the cutting edge of endurance sports and technology. We hope you and your family are well during this difficult time and look forward to seeing you and all of the D.C. Rainmaker community at (insert next large event sponsored by Zwift) in the (spring/summer/fall/winter).

    What they actually said: “This article was not needed,…”

    Two observations: I am glad I don’t have any money in Zwift, and they really, really need to re-think their PR strategy.

  41. eric

    I wonder if it is a play for health club type integrations. They have the ‘sponsored’ race banner stuff, they have group rides, group workouts. If you could put simple spin tech and a simple screen and sell it as a branded product. The hardware may also be retro-fit type hardware for the bog standard spin bike. A screen, wifi, power meter, boom you’re online with zwift.

    So 24 hour fitness buys a bunch of bikes, or retro-fits their spin gear. The classes run in zwift, and as a member of the club if you want you can ride from your own home, or go to the gym. Subscription in either case is through the gym. While in game you have banners/etc branded to the gym. It’s a way for gyms to get a peloton like experience with options for an eco-system. etc. maybe… 😀

    Great article.

  42. Alex

    I wonder what effect that’s going to have on Zwifts (current) competitors like TrainerRoad or Sufferfest and their (potential) investors. That decision by Zwift makes it pretty obvious that Zwifts management and/or investors don’t believe the current business model has the potential to become a multimillion dollar company. Otherwise you don’t take on that massive risk.

    What people outside the start-up/tech space often fail to understand is that the market loves services and hates hardware. The only exception are the few companies that make something that truly sets them apart from the competition, like Peloton. Or, on a much larger scale, the Apple iPhone. If Apple didn’t have that ridiculous cash cow, everyone would ask them to focus on their digital services like iTunes and the (failing) Apple TV+.

    I’d love to peak behind the curtain to see what vision they (or their investors) have and which numbers they base their decisions on. From the outside, that development looks questionable and suggests a lack in faith by them to substantially scale their subscription numbers up. Another thing that’s certain: if their infrastructure really can only handle 50k riders at any given time, that’s obviously way to small long term if you’re aiming at a couple million subscribers. Their new peak of 20k riders obviously shows how small they still are,

  43. Fernando Rebollo

    Do you know if zwift is working something for chromebook?? Thanks

  44. Robert

    Clearly the total addressable market of a gamified cycling training platform pales before that of health club memberships. Lowering the tech hurdles Peloton-style is the first step from the former towards the latter. Nobody wants an IT type who’s also a Bluetooth and ANT+ expert while knowing how to fit an 11-speed cassette onto a trainer and align the not-quite-right derailleur to get going right after taking a $1000+ gizmo out of a box. Unless one *is* an IT type who’s also all of the above – and then one is already an avid DCR reader.

    The question is whether Zwift is trying to acquire, or get acquired. Any other route is even rougher.

  45. jodie Hamilton
  46. patrick

    Very sharp analysis Ray. I could not agree more with your analysis. As a Swiss athlete being hit full on by the Covid Crisis, the lockdown and all gyms being closed, one will see an increase of subscription (if one can get access to a “existing” home trainer. New gear will not hit the road until september at best. In terms of indoor running, it is dead. Gyms will be closed until june than you run outside. NOWAY oneone will get a running belt delivered now. To big, to expensive, so staff and simply no SPACE. Would you now buy an infinity pool?! I would love to as all pools are shutdown. But who has space for that device? Good luck to Zwift and honestly i am very disappointed by such as move. I might simply go back more to my good old swin bike (which i do anyway most of the time). Cheers

  47. Andrew

    There is an element of greed in zwift and they want to try and monopolize the training world. Whenever I have to deal with support I always get the feeling there is not a care in the world for the end use. If they took to building their own hardware and only allowing that to be used then they would lose the current 20k subscribers. I use a Tacx trainer since 2007 and would not buy any other trainer. I would simply dump zwift.

  48. John

    Lots of ifs and buts in this story. Its just waffle during Covid19 to fill space.

  49. CowRob

    Acquisition is tempting, but it’s not such an easy way to easy street. Who would they buy? Peloton? Tacx was already bought, I doubt they could buy Garmin. Wattbike? Wahoo?

    It would have to be an obscure brand that isn’t a major player, and buying them means integrating them into a new corporate culture, and then tailoring the product(s) to target the market they want. I mean, sure, it would be a shortcut to market, but it’s not a given unless they choose wisely and get a ringer, and can make it a player. That market is already pretty crowded, and with so many people losing their jobs, the path to profitability doesn’t seem very clear.

    It would seem to me that Zwift should start an annual pricing plan, lock people, and their money, into there membership plans to build a war chest to be able to go shopping when (if?) this all settles down. Their possible acquisition range opens up quite a bit with more money, plus giving them money to ‘flesh out’ any acquired product(s). So, I can’t understand their resistance to an annual plan.

    A local story, we had a very advanced golf driving range. They had a lot to offer people. It was easily the best range in the area, but they only sold monthly ‘memberships’. So people didn’t buy memberships for the entire year, and the income crashed in the winter. They lasted just over a year. I have heard the comment that ‘I drop Zwift during the summer’ by so many people, and yet more are hoping for an annual plan. ‘Take my money!!!’ I just changed to the annual plan for Trainerroad. It makes sense. They get more money. Maybe Trainerroad should buy Zwift?

    But, yeah, Zwift trying to build their own trainers could really backfire. Anyone remember Jawbone? They had killer Bluetooth ear buds, and speakers. They thought that the ‘next great thing’ was fitness tracking, and they bet the farm on their idea and it face planted. Thinking it was a simple thing to fix, they gave everyone their money back, and then came out with another version, and it wasn’t much better, and that was the end. They could have kept to what they knew, but they thought they had ‘the great idea’, and failed. *shrug*

    I wonder how Zwift will be discussed in 5 years, 3 years, 2. ‘Remember that riding game company? Whatever happened to them?’

  50. Nick W

    I hope Zwift don’t put their Running development on hold. The addition of a bracket, iphone lightning to HDMI adapter and 24 inch monitor plus a Zwift Runpod has transformed my older treadmill from a clothes drier into something really good. The Tour of Zwift and the Tour of Watopia on the Run app have been really engaging, it’s amazing how much harder and longer you can run when chasing someone in front of you! There’s probably more languishing treadmills out there than there are smart trainers? Also in my case I started paying the Zwift subscription as the running led into Zwift biking, so the run sells Zwift too.
    I don’t get it focusing on hardware, less money to be made from it than stamping out software. Lets face it Zwift struggles to do software updates quickly or well so splitting their resource to do both could be very risky. Zwifts partners make a great variety of products that suit all cyclists. Not everyone wants a Zwift bike which might have the life of an iPhone and way less support.
    The real game changer could be Sony if they ever decided to make a proper Smart Bike and pair it with a Playstation, awesome graphics on a relatively cheap platform and a world larger than Zwifts and economies of scale to make hardware. But even they aren’t going to make a treadmill.

  51. Jon

    Zwift makes money because their platform has got the market share to make it work as an enjoyable multiplayer gamified exercise experience. Most of the money they’ve made has fairly obviously not gone into the game. Creating an equivalent game would be relatively straightforward for many established video game companies. It’s not happened to now because it’s a niche market with an established dominant player, and those other companies would struggle to get the numbers to make multiplayer enjoyable.

    Now, what would happen to Zwift if one of the big smart trainer manufacturers decided to develop/acquire its own better Zwift competitor and bundle it with their trainers for free? Up until Garmin bought Tacx it didn’t much matter; Zwift could damage the revenue of anyone who stepped out of line by not supporting them. Zwift had the whip hand; now things have changed, and they’ve got to deal with Garmin.

    My best guess is this is a defensive “stay off our lawn” response by Zwift to the Garmin. I hope they tread carefully, Zwift trying to become a Peloton-a-like or competing with Garmin on hardware seems like a course of action fraught with difficulties.