Barry McCarthy, Peloton’s new CEO, sees an app store and a new subscription model as possible ways to kick-start the company’s stalled sales, as stated in an interview with the New York Times‘DealBook.
McCarthy, who was the former chief executive of Spotify and Netflix, says his vision for Peloton could include an app store that is open to third-party content. “Today it’s a closed platform, but it could be an open platform and part of the creative economy,” McCarthy told the Times. NYT† “What other apps would you put on it? Could it be an app store?”
He also downplays the importance of hardware when it comes to Peloton’s fitness equipment. McCarthy suggests the most valuable experiences come from on-screen interaction with instructors, music, and community features (including things like leaderboards and video chatting) that he says the fitness company is “just starting to develop.”
McCarthy shakes things up again, hinting once again at the possibility of a brand new subscription model. He tells the NYT he wants to find the sweet spot between the cost of the training equipment and a subscription to Peloton’s classes. Instead of selling Peloton’s gear for more than $1,000, McCarthy sees a “dramatically lower” initial cost and a higher subscription price of “maybe $70 or $80.” Peloton currently offers its subscription for $39/month.
The Peloton saga has been nothing but eventful. After sales skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Peloton overcompensated by spending hundreds of millions to speed up shipping and build a new factory. But when people returned to gyms and Peloton recalled its treadmills over reports of injured children and one death, sales plummeted so much that the company stopped manufacturing treadmills and bicycles.
Earlier this month, former CEO John Foley resigned and announced the layoff of 2,800 employees. McCarthy’s first day at work was marked by a tense meeting with fired Peloton employees, as rumors circulated of a Peloton buyout (which McCarthy has since ousted).
It seems McCarthy is confident he can steer Peloton in the right direction, but he probably can’t do it by just adjusting his subscriptions. Throwing an app store into the mix, however, makes things a little more interesting. It could broaden Peloton’s scope beyond fitness classes and equipment, allowing it to use the sales and popularity of third-party apps to its advantage.