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Zwift welcomes $450m in new investment – is a Zwift indoor trainer on the way?

Backers include Specialized as companies launch strategic partnership – Zwift own brand training bike reported to be part of future plans

Zwift, the virtual fitness platform for cyclists and runners, has announced today that it has raised $450 million in minority investment led by private equity giant KKR, with other investors including Specialized Bicycle Components’ venture capital fund, the Amazon Alexa Fund, and the Finnish video games developer behind titles such as Clash of Clans.

Get started with Zwift

The company’s profile received a huge boost earlier this year as pro cyclists unable to train or compete on the road took to the online platform for events including the Virtual Tour de France, and later this year Zwift will be the host platform for the inaugural UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.

It says it will use the money to speed up the development of its core software platform, and it is reported that the investment will also be used to bring a Zwift-branded indoor bike to market.

Zwift CEO and co-founder Eric Min said: “With this investment, Zwift is primed to operate in a broader fitness market and deliver on our ambition to provide gamified fitness through integrated software and hardware, to anyone who wants to have fun while getting fit at home.

“We will be accelerating our investment in the core business, improving the overall product experience, and bringing forward new features, more content and Zwift designed hardware, all with the support of KKR and our new outside investors who can help drive our growth.”

He continued: “To make this happen, we will be increasing headcount within our core product teams, investing in the very best people.

“We begin by welcoming Ilkka Paananen to Zwift both as an investor and independent board member.”

A Zwift set-up for every budget

Paananen, who is CEO of  co-founder of Finland-based video games developer, Supercell, said: “Zwift is uniquely positioned to lead the way and grow a new global fitness community, combining video gaming and sports, two of my great passions.

“I have been incredibly impressed by Eric’s vision and ambition, and his commitment to building a world-class product for the community. There are many exciting growth opportunities for Zwift and I’m looking forward to being a part of this journey.”

Meanwhile, as well as investing in Zwift, Specialized has also entered into a strategic partnership with the virtual cycling platform.

Specialized’s leader of product and innovation, Chris Yu, said: “Our goal is to pedal the planet forward by getting more riders riding, and we are beyond excited at the opportunity to partner with Zwift to break down the barriers to riding indoors on the world’s most engaging platform.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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15 comments

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hunky24 | 3 years ago
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how to make cycling exclusive. Ie. If you don't buy into Zwift, you will be excluded from a large part of the cycling community. There is already an assumption by many organisations and teams that fans etc are all on Zwift. And cycling used to be such an inclusive sport..

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Judge dreadful | 3 years ago
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That's a big problem with something like Zwift. It's essentially seen as a computer game, by lots of subscribers. It can actually be used as a decent training tool, but if you keep putting 'fluffy bunny' features into it, you run the risk of alienating serious cyclists, and encouraging spotty teenagers, who know how to 'hack everything' to start taking the piss. I think they may have just killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Peloton will be wetting their pants in anticipation.

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fukawitribe replied to Judge dreadful | 3 years ago
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Judge dreadful wrote:

I think they may have just killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Peloton will be wetting their pants in anticipation.

Not sure I follow.. what exactly did they just do that prompted this anserine slaughter ? One of their investors being linked with CoC ?

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Secret_squirrel replied to fukawitribe | 3 years ago
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You gotta admit  having a mediocre fremium games developer onboard, most of who's budget is spent on browser ads is hardly cause for celebration is it?

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fukawitribe replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 years ago
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No indeed, but a minor investor in this round is hardly going to dictate development, let alone "killed the goose that laid the golden egg" (if that was the point being made)

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caw35ride replied to Judge dreadful | 3 years ago
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Judge dreadful wrote:

That's a big problem with something like Zwift. It's essentially seen as a computer game, by lots of subscribers.

That's also how Zwift sees it, which might explain its success. FYI, "serious cyclists" already seem to have discovered how to cheat!

Peloton might be more concerned about the attention they are about to receive from the general direction of Cupertino.

 

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PRSboy | 3 years ago
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Interesting... I was thinking the other day how much fun it would be to have a zwift style game involving pro cycling, where gamers can join a team of AI riders and start as domestique... with a team briefing before each race where you get your role... support or go for the stage win.  As you gain points over time, you progress to being team leader and going for GC.

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CarlosFerreiro replied to PRSboy | 3 years ago
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Unliited proceedural open world, steering, traction, bikepacking, figure out how to access certain areas, and get more coverage on your VeloViewer explorer tile type thing.....

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squired replied to PRSboy | 3 years ago
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If/when Veloton eventually launches you'll get something like that.  Given that they are utilising the Pro Cycling Manager / Tour de France engine a lot of the tools to build that sort of game experience are already somewhat in place.

The problem I see with Zwift right now is that they are cash rich and sometimes that isn't a good thing.  Look at the most famous Kickstarter game, Star Citizen, which has raised ridiculous amounts of money and still not actually been released.

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PRSboy replied to squired | 3 years ago
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Not heard of Veloton... just had a look, not a lot available online, but such as there is looks very promising.

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squired replied to PRSboy | 3 years ago
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If you go to the Chris Prichard Youtube channel there are some videos from a few months ago where he did Paris Roubaix and other races on it.  Back then there were definitely issues over riding in the group, but if they work out the issues it could be an interesting option for many people and a solid Zwift alternative.

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Hirsute replied to squired | 3 years ago
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squired wrote:

If you go to the Chris Prichard Youtube channel there are some videos from a few months ago where he did Paris Roubaix and other races on it.  Back then there were definitely issues over riding in the group, but if they work out the issues it could be an interesting option for many people and a solid Zwift alternative.

Was it because they wanted more than four riders ?

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squired replied to Hirsute | 3 years ago
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Not sure what you mean hirsute (or is that some sort of joke?).

Just some weird AI issues where you would have surges in the group forcing the human rider right to the back and then it being difficult to get up again and move back through the group.  I'm guessing it was due to issues where it was using the behaviour that is fine in the game, but needs to be tweaked for when a human is put in the game.

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SimonAY | 3 years ago
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I hope the investment from the Clash of Clans developer doesn't bring with it their "pay to win" and micro-transactions model that their games have. I could just see the temptation to charge £1.99 for three aero helmet power ups.....

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caw35ride replied to SimonAY | 3 years ago
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That is more of a concern. 

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