PELOTON WANTS TO BE MORE THAN A PANDEMIC FAD
Bloomberg Businessweek|January 25, 2021
In March, a couple of weeks after sweeping stay-at-home orders had brought much of the U.S. to a halt, William Lynch says he realized Peloton Interactive Inc. would fare really well in the year of the pandemic.
Anders Melin and Jack Pitcher

Orders were flooding in from areas under lockdown at such a rate that Peloton halted all its marketing in the U.S. The customers kept coming. Covid-19 “changed everything for Peloton,” says Lynch, the former Barnes & Noble Inc. chief executive who’s been the company’s president since 2017. “We saw what was already a rapidly growing business just explode.”

It’s awkward: booming growth while the novel coronavirus has ravaged families and caused economic upheaval. But Lynch says a broad shift to at-home workouts, which underpins Peloton’s whole business model, was under way well before 2020; the pandemic just sped it up. Now he and his colleagues are working to convince the world that Peloton’s momentum will continue once the virus eventually subsides.

Last year the company introduced a new bike and cut the price of its old model by 15% to $1,895 (not including the $39-a-month membership). It introduced programs tailored to people who don’t have free weights or a Peloton bike, like barre and dance cardio, and added classes for pandemic-sheltering families with kids. And it’s making a big push to sell treadmills, because there are far more runners than cyclists in the world.

Just a year ago, Peloton skeptics abounded, citing the many companies that have peddled a wide range of home workout equipment in recent decades but struggled to make anything stick. Peloton’s shares fell 11% in their first day of trading in 2019. At the time, it was losing 21¢ on every dollar of sales. And last March, just as the country went into lockdown, short seller Citron Research, which bets that companies’ stocks will fall, published a report saying, “the dream of Peloton becoming the official platform of home health will soon be a distant memory.” It said Peloton was worth $1.4 billion, or about $5 a share.

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