U.S. Markets closed

Peloton to Sell Cheaper Treadmill and Rowing Machine in 2020

Julie Verhage and Mark Gurman

(Bloomberg) -- Peloton Interactive Inc., the unprofitable fitness company whose stock has been skidding, plans to introduce two new pieces of workout equipment next year in a further expansion beyond cycling.

The company is working on a new treadmill that will cost less than the current $4,000 model, as well as a rowing machine, according to people familiar with their development. Peloton has also explored apps for Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV and the Apple Watch to complement its smartphone software, though the status of those projects is unclear, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the information publicly.

The new pieces of hardware will likely be the first introductions for the company in at least two years, when the original treadmill debuted. But people familiar with the plans said the release timing could change. Peloton’s stock jumped as much as 9% in intraday trading on the news.

Jessica Kleiman, a spokeswoman for Peloton, declined to comment on products in development. “Our R&D team is always working on ideas,” she wrote in an email.

In the almost two months since Peloton went public, investors have called for the company to reevaluate its expensive growth ambitions and focus on turning a profit, much like with other technology companies that have gone public this year. Peloton’s initial public offering fell flat, and the stock is down 15% since then. John Foley, the chief executive officer, said on a conference call with analysts last week that management is convinced now is the time to spend on expansion. “If we pull back on growth, we could be profitable tomorrow, but that is not what the board and the leadership at Peloton believe we should do,” he said.

Foley helped start Peloton with a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, pitching live and on-demand cycling classes streamed to the home. The main hardware product is a $2,245 stationary bike affixed to an iPad-like device. It has recently expanded to Canada and Germany and is also building fitness studios in New York and London.

Peloton now offers a variety of classes, including boot camp-style workouts, meditation and yoga, through apps that don’t require pricey equipment. More than 500,000 people take Peloton classes, which require a membership costing at least $19 a month. The company describes itself as the “largest interactive fitness platform” in the world.

Foley has fashioned Peloton as a tech company, which has helped boost its market value to $7 billion today. Executives emphasize user engagement as a key business metric. The company said last week the average user was nearly a dozen workouts on Peloton each month, up from nine in the same period last year. Executives see the addition of new kinds of workouts as a way to increase engagement. In 2018, Peloton introduced its first treadmill at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The bulkiness of the equipment and $4,000 price tag have made it a niche product, though Foley has said he’s happy with sales of the treadmill.

To increase sales, Peloton has looked for various ways to make its products more affordable. It offers monthly installment plans on equipment purchases through a startup called Affirm and acquired an engineering firm this year that previously designed devices for Google and Facebook Inc. Foley said in an interview last week that the acquisition would give Peloton cost advantages and potentially speed up production.

Foley aspires to create the Apple Inc. of fitness and has taken many cues from the world’s most valuable public company. One of those is product secrecy. During the IPO roadshow, Foley would only answer questions about new products by saying Peloton could have a “better, best” strategy, suggesting it may sell multiple models of bikes or treadmills at different prices. In an interview with Bloomberg TV on the day of the IPO, Foley declined to answer questions about new products. When asked specifically about the potential for a rowing machine, Foley responded with a smirk: “I think rowing is a fantastic workout.”

(Updates with share move in the third paragraph.)

--With assistance from Jason Kelly.

To contact the reporters on this story: Julie Verhage in New York at jverhage2@bloomberg.net;Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.