Peloton co-founder cycles out of CEO role

Peloton shares surged more than 400 percent in 2020, only to see nearly all those gains wiped out in 2021.

Peloton co-founder John Foley
John Foley first pitched the idea of an interactive exercise bike in 2011, hoping to disrupt the industry [File: Mark Lennihan/AP]

The co-founder of Peloton is stepping down as chief executive after an extended streak of tumult at the exercise and treadmill company, which is also cutting almost 3,000 jobs.

John Foley first pitched the idea of an interactive exercise bike in 2011, hoping to disrupt the industry. He will give up the CEO position and become executive chair at Peloton Interactive Inc.

Barry McCarthy, who served as CFO at Spotify as well as at Netflix, will take over the CEO position.

Peloton had been the subject in media reports this week of a potential takeover target by either Amazon or Nike. The developments on Tuesday deflated hopes for such a deep-pocketed buyer and shares of Peloton slipped before the opening bell.

The company’s shares have been on a roller-coaster ride since the pandemic began. They surged more than 400 percent in 2020 as COVID-19 forced lockdowns and shifted the workout trend from the gym to the home.

Nearly all of those gains were wiped out in 2021 as the distribution of coronavirus vaccines sent many people out of their homes, and back into gyms. The stock fell further this year amid reports the company would cut back production as sales tumbled.

There was also a demand late last month from activist investor Blackwells Capital that Peloton remove Foley as CEO and that it consider selling the company amid waning consumer demand.

In addition to the leadership shake-up, Peloton announced Tuesday that it was cutting 2,800 jobs, including approximately 20 percent of corporate jobs at the New York City company. The instructors who lead interactive classes for Peloton will not be included in cuts, nor will the content that the company relies on to lure users.

Peloton said it’s winding down the development of its Peloton Output Park in Ohio. It will also reduce its owned and operated warehousing and delivery locations and will instead ramp up its third-party relationships.

Peloton is looking to reduce its planned capital expenditures for this year by about $150m. The restructuring programme is expected to result in approximately $130m in cash charges related to severance and other exit and restructuring activities and $80m in non-cash charges. The majority of the charges will be recorded in fiscal 2022.

“Peloton is at an important juncture, and we are taking decisive steps. Our focus is on building on the already amazing Peloton member experience, while optimizing our organization to deliver profitable growth,” Foley said in a prepared statement.

The company anticipates at least $800m in annual cost savings once its actions are fully implemented.

Wall Street took the shake-up Tuesday as a pivotal moment for Peloton.

“We believe Foley leaving makes it more likely that Peloton ultimately sells the company and the board clearly has major decisions to make in the days/weeks/months ahead,” wrote Wedbush analysts Daniel Ives and John Katsingris.

Source: AP