Zwift, maker of a popular indoor training app, just landed a whopping $450 million in funding led by KKR

Zwift, a 350-person, Long Beach, Calif.-based online fitness platform that immerses cyclists and runners in 3D generated worlds, just raised a hefty $450 million in funding led by the investment firm KKR in exchange for a minority stake in its business.

Permira and Specialized Bicycle’s venture capital fund, Zone 5 Ventures, also joined the round alongside earlier backers True, Highland Europe, Novator and Causeway Media.

Zwift has now raised $620 million altogether and is valued at north of $1 billion.

Why such a big round? Right now, the company just makes an app, albeit a popular one.

Since its 2015 founding, 2.5 million people have signed up to enter a world that, as Outside magazine once described it, is “part social-media platform, part personal trainer, part computer game.” That particular combination makes Zwift’s app appealing to both recreational riders and pros looking to train no matter the conditions outside.

The company declined to share its active subscriber numbers with us — Zwift charges $15 per month for its service — but it seemingly has a loyal base of users. For example, 117,000 of them competed in a virtual version of the Tour de France that Zwift hosted in July after it was chosen by the official race organizer of the real tour as its partner on the event.

Which leads us back to this giant round and what it will be used for. Today, in order to use the app, Zwift’s biking adherents need to buy their own smart trainers, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $700 and are made by brands like Elite and Wahoo. Meanwhile, runners use Zwift’s app with their own treadmills.

Now, Zwift is jumping headfirst into the hardware business itself. Though a spokesman for the company said it can’t discuss any particulars — “It takes time to develop hardware properly, and COVID has placed increased pressure on production” — it is hoping to bring its first product to market “as soon as possible.”

He added that the hardware will make Zwift a “more immersive and seamless experience for users.”

Either way, the direction isn’t a surprising one for the company, and we don’t say that merely because Specialized participated in this round as a strategic backer. Cofounder and CEO Eric Min has told us in the past that the company hoped to produce its own trainers some day.

Given the runaway success of the in-home fitness company Peloton, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a treadmill follow, or even a different product entirely. Said the Zwift spokesman, “In the future, it’s possible that we could bring in other disciplines or a more gamified experience.” (It will have expert advice in this area if it does, given that Swift just brought aboard Ilkka Paananen, the co-founder and CEO of Finnish gaming company Supercell, as an investor and board member.)

In the meantime, the company tells us not to expect the kind of classes that have proven so successful for Peloton, tempting as it may be to draw parallels.

While Zwift prides itself on users’ ability to organize group rides and runs and workouts, classes, says its spokesman, are “not in the offing.”

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Every Mother is a fitness streaming platform for new and expecting mothers

When Allison Rapaport was pregnant for the first time, in 2013, she struggled to find workout classes that didn’t completely go against the advice her OB-GYN gave her.

Conflicted on whether to trust online workouts or just slow down altogether, Rapaport went to a personal trainer, Leah Keller. The result? A program that was clear, straightforward and, most importantly, safe. Rapaport was back to her original stride just weeks after giving birth.

Turns out Keller’s fitness expertise matched well with Rapaport’s business eye, who had recently graduated business school and was the co-founder of Columbia Business Lab. The duo founded Every Mother, an online fitness streaming company that focuses on pre and post-natal care for childbearing women.

The company announced today that it has closed a $1.5 million seed round led by Courtside Ventures, with participation from Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures, Techstars Ventures, The Fund and prominent angels Robin Berzin of Parsley Health and Ilia Papas of Blue Apron.

Every Mother will offer fitness classes to combat one of the most common conditions that affects expecting mothers: diastasis recti, a condition that leads to a protruding waistline, urinary incontinence and back pain. The condition often worsens with traditional exercise, Rapaport said.

The classes range from 10 to 30 minutes and are pre-recorded videos. Customers can sign up for a quarterly or annual subscription and then take a quiz to help Every Mother place them in a corresponding stage. Users can be placed among other women preparing for pregnancy or amid new moms.

Day one starts with educational content and foundational exercises, and users can enter their waist measurements to track progress. As time goes on, educational content regarding how to repair certain conditions becomes less and less, and foundation core exercises get longer. Full body workouts cap every day.

The company claims it is the only clinically proven workout to repair and resolve diastasis recti. Its first study was a retrospective with Weill Cornell published in 2013, and the next study will be a prospective trial done with HSS in NYC.

The company was profitable when it closed the deal in late January. The valuation, per Rapaport, was $9 million post-money. While the pandemic was not part of the company’s fundraising process, COVID-19 surely impacted the startup’s growth: new sign-ups grew more than 50% in April, per Rapaport.

When asked about how Every Mother differs from a free Zoom workout class, Rapaport, who is currently 37 weeks pregnant with child number three on the way, responded, “It isn’t just about being accessible, both from a medium and cost standpoint. It’s about giving women something that is safe, that works, and that they can actually follow and stick to.”

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