Training & coaching platform Today’s Plan has announced they’ll be closing early next year. The Australian-based company has long been the chief competitor to TrainingPeaks, especially for coaches and high-performance teams. Numerous Tour de France teams have used the platform over the years (including currently), as well as many other high-profile athletes. In addition, Stages Cycling uses its backend platform as the basis for its Stages training log platform.
The company was well known for moving quickly from a technology standpoint, often far faster than TrainingPeaks in terms of implementing new technology or supporting new sensor types, new data types, etc. And, of course, most notable of all is that the platform was acquired by Specialized back in 2019, just over four years ago. I’ll dive into that more later in this post, but for now let’s look at the actual announcement.
Now, before we go too far, here’s the letter sent out to Today’s Plan users (including myself):
With a heavy heart, we write to inform you of the closure of Today’s Plan. Over the last eight years, we’ve had the privilege of serving and being part of your journey. Your support and trust have meant everything to us.
Regrettably, due to many factors, we must cease operations as of 12th March 2024. This decision was not made lightly, and we understand the impact it may have on you. Please know this was an incredibly difficult choice, and we explored every possible avenue before reaching this conclusion.
However, amidst this closure, we want to ensure that your transition to another platform is as smooth as possible and that your data and information remain accessible to you. We’ve taken steps to facilitate this transition. Click here for more details on how to export your data.
Support: Our customer support team will be available until February to help you with any questions or concerns related to data access or the closure process. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for being a part of the Today’s Plan team over the years.
The Today’s Plan team.
If one goes to the linked FAQ, there are answers to some common questions, which essentially boils down to (my distilled version below):
1) You can export all of your data, which can then be imported into other platforms
2) You can delete your account
3) Access to data ends on March 12, 2024, after that, it vaporizes
4) If you paid for an annual subscription, you’ll get a refund for the period after the closure date
5) Yes, you’ll lose everything from March 12, 2024.
Of course, left somewhat unsaid here is that while you can generally export out the core fitness data (e.g., runs/rides) just fine, other platforms won’t easily pull in things like coaches’ comments, zones, and all the never-ending nuances that make coached training platforms so complex and detailed.
Off the top of my head, a couple of big-name training platforms that consumers and coaches will likely shift to are:
Of course, the world is filled with training log platforms, arguably far too many (literally, I get 2-3 emails per week of new platforms that are only slightly different than existing platforms), which may indicate a saturated market – at least for startups.
Now, the history of the company is notable, as back in 2019, it was acquired by Specialized, as part of a new sports technology incubator, Zone5 Ventures. The idea at the time was that there were all these startups that were looking to deal with the fitness/health industry. And while the theory of analyzing a simple run file sounds…well, simple. The reality is that dealing with all that data is anything but – at least to be competitive in any fitness/sports landscape in the 2020’s. From constantly changing file formats to nuances in how each device/company works, it’s a logistical nightmare for startups to navigate.
Here was a graphic at the time of all of the customers and partners of Zone5 Ventures:
Thus, while Today’s Plan would still be doing the core focus of being a training platform, they’d also be given more money and resources to handle these requests. Today’s Plan founder Ben Bowley said at the time:
“The volume of inquiry we get from that kind of stuff is really quite significant, and is something that Today’s Plan is already doing. We think there’s this incredible opportunity whether it be entrepreneur or scientists.”
The company already had a slate of clients/customers in that realm (such as Stages Cycling), so this move actually made a ton of sense. It’ll be interesting to see/hear how much of this sports-tech arm remains in place within Zone5 Ventures. There’s still a significant need for that in the industry, assuming the price is right.
So, what are consumers to do? Well, there’s not much except to migrate elsewhere. I’d argue the far bigger hit here is for coaches, who have to migrate piles of customers/clients and recreate everything from structured workouts to zones to customized settings. It’s actually why it’s so hard for coaches to switch platforms (e.g., TrainingPeaks to Today’s Plan, or vice versa). It’s a nightmare that most don’t end up embarking upon.
Which is why I’m actually pretty surprised at this announcement. While it’s no secret the cycling industry is hurting right now, I wouldn’t have put Today’s Plan in the obvious targets camp. See, the thing about coached training platforms, is that they’re like freight trains or cargo ships. Everything happens slowly, both in terms of development, but also in terms of customer acquisition and loss. Because the stickiness factor is so incredibly high for training platforms (especially for coaches), people don’t tend to migrate off of them at a moment’s notice. Meaning people aren’t jumping ship out of the blue en mass, rather, shifts happen over very long periods of time.
Part of the challenge that all of these training platforms, but more specifically coaches have, is how fast the automated/computerized/“AI” training platforms have encroached on the space. Companies like TrainingPeaks & Today’s Plan rely heavily on coaches fees, but as people shift towards algorithm-driven training programs (e.g., those from TrainerRoad, but also the many other tiny companies you’ve never heard of), it lessens the need for traditional coaching. And to be clear – I think there’s absolutely a need for human-driven coaching in some aspects of sports training. At the same time, there’s not always a need for it either. But that’s an entirely different post for an entirely different day.
The other challenge that I suspect Today’s Plan had is that they no longer controlled their own destiny. Being part of Specialized (and to whatever extent the VC-focused Zone5 Ventures still held ownership), they would have had higher profitability/growth thresholds than perhaps a smaller independent company would have had. If and how this might have played into things is unclear though, but certainly, anytime you talk about tech investment in the Bay Area, there’s usually a silly-high growth metric attached. One that’s typically not normal for a cargo ship-like company from a training log platform world.
In any case, it’s definitely sad to see Today’s Plan go away. While they didn’t ever get as much press as TrainingPeaks (due to smaller user numbers), they often pushed the bounds of technology far faster than TrainingPeaks did. And as always, losing competitors in this space sucks. Especially ones that have a deep understanding of the underlying file formats/protocols/companies in the endurance sports landscape, ironically, the exact areas that Specialized identified that other startups need.
With that, thanks for reading.
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