First, there was Strava, and then came Zwift. These two apps have taken the cycling world by storm as road riders and mountain bikers use their devices to enhance their cycling. Unlike Strava though, Zwift is done with bike trainers, indoors. Yes, the visionaries of Zwift have worked hard to make bike trainers bearable and less boring.
Today, they announced that they secured $120 million in funding, a staggering amount in bike industry and even in the tech world of start-ups. Simply put, it is a mind-blowing amount. Given what we know about funding, they likely gave up less than half of the company, thus this funding event likely puts a valuation on the company over $500 million according to TechCrunch.
What can possibly make the company worth that much? We did some research to learn more about Zwift.
Here is a fascinating interview with CEO Eric Min. Eric Connected with creator Jon Mayfield on the Slowtwitch forum and the rest is history.
Zwift, a multiplayer online training and racing platform for cyclists and runners, today announced $120 million in funding, reflecting its commitment both to growing its new running discipline and also to expanding into esports. Born out of the desire to create an indoor exercise option that was effective, social and engaging, the Zwift App enables users to ride or run with friends from all over the globe, complete structured workouts, and participate in group events in several virtual environments.
The Series B round was led by Highland Europe whose investments include eGym, Huel, WeTransfer and Malwarebytes – with True, the retail, consumer and leisure investment firm behind the Ribble cycling brand; Causeway Media, an investor in both traditional sports and esports; as well as returning London-based investor Novator participating.
“Zwift is a fantastically innovative company and they are certainly leading the way in the indoor training space,” says Tony Zappala, Partner of Highland Europe. “It’s a highly scalable business and we’ve been impressed with how they have already managed to expand globally – already 70 percent of current subscribers are from outside the USA. Research points to an audience of 40 million competitive and enthusiast cyclists, and many of those lie in the traditional cycling nations of Central Europe, so in this market alone there is huge growth potential.”
“We are delighted to be continuing the journey with Zwift,” adds Birgir Már Ragnarsson, Partner at Novator, a London based investment firm. “We firmly believe in the enormous potential of Zwift and this is why we have chosen to invest further.”
“With this significant investment, led by Highland Europe, Zwift is now more than ready to propel the business forward by providing innovative offerings that are greater in breadth and depth ,” said Eric Min, Co-founder & CEO of Zwift. “In 2018, more than one third of the Tour de France peloton were Zwifters. With that support already in place, we are in the unique position of being able to combine affordable physical endeavour with video gaming technology, ultimately setting the stage for us to become the first true esport of its kind.”
GCN takes a tour of the Zwift headquarters in Long Beach, CA
“We’re not here to compete with pro cycling as we know it, we’re here to deliver new energy, entertainment, audiences and commercial partners to pro cycling. We want to create an new sport within a sport. Don’t expect to see first across the line stage racing, Zwift is going to turn into a battleground for pro cycling teams and deliver a truly gamified experience which will be shared with our subscriber base globally. I personally believe Zwift will play a leading role in the future of professional cycling.”
“Zwift has transformed the way the professional peloton trains.” adds Mark Cavendish, 2011 World Champion and 30-time Tour de France stage winner. “Before Zwift, there is no way I would have chosen to ride an indoor trainer. Now though, I genuinely enjoy it – it appeals to the gamer in me. Riders like myself are genuinely fitter now, thanks to Zwift.”
Logging more than 410 million virtual miles, more than one million people have created accounts on the Zwift platform to date, with greater expansion across markets to come. Earlier this year, the business also introduced Zwift Run and Zwift RunPod, a Bluetooth-enabled device that breathes life into any treadmill, at home or in the gym, syncing seamlessly with Zwift and transmitting data, relaying speed in game. On the back of this raise, Zwift is now ready to further innovate the indoor running experience.
“This investment allows Zwift to present an even more advanced offering to a growing audience of cyclists and runners in need of new ways to train and remain active indoors,” said Paul Cocker, Co-founder of True. “As with the wider retail industry, the fitness industry is evolving rapidly and we firmly believe that Zwift will be at forefront of that evolution.”
“Zwift has already emerged as a leader in the cycling space on a global scale, and we’re excited to help accelerate the company’s expansion plans,” said Wyc Grousbeck, Partner of Causeway Media and Owner of the Boston Celtics. “With both technology and fitness in its DNA, Causeway Media is an ideal partner for Zwift, as they enter their next stage of growth.”
Zwift is available on PC, Mac, Apple TV, iOS and Android.
So what do you think the future holds for Zwift? A decade ago, we were wondering if the virtual reality world where we walk around in our ‘avatar’ would ever make sense. But now it seems to be happening as some bike around Watopia, buying fancy bikes and clothing in the virtual space.
Is this company worth $500 or did they pull a Zwift one over somebody?