December 20, 2018

Zwift raises $120m to expand its multiplayer fitness video games

A startup called Zwift that turns online fitness classes into social video games raised $120m to expand.

Image: Marco Verch, via Flickr; more of his work can be found here

Zwift, a startup that combines exercise classes with the solo-socializing of video games, raised $120m to expand.

By drafting on two popular trends (online gaming and group fitness classes), the company plans to expand into a global training and e-sports platform.

The love child of Fortnite and SoulCycle

Zwift’s mission is to make home workouts social, combining the addictively social dimensions of online gaming with the health benefits of a workout class — a 1-2 punch that appeals to a mainstream audience.

Zwift’s original indoor cycling workouts require a bike, a Zwift bike mount (which tracks progress and adjusts resistance), and an internet-connected TV that can sync with the Zwift app ($15/month).

Right now, 98% of Zwift’s business is built around its biking customers, but it also offers programs for runners and hopes to use its new funding to expand to rowing machines, step machines, and other activities.

Cycling startups are on a roll

SoulCycle and Peloton have both achieved billion-dollar-plus valuations by making fitness cool.

Zwift is capitalizing on the trend, but with the added appeal of gaming. With its new funding round, Zwift wants to double down on its gaming experience by investing in e-sports competitions.

According to CEO Eric Min, Zwift is “approaching unicorn status.” But the company has even loftier aspirations. “Our goal is to bring Zwift to the Olympics,” Min told TechCrunch.

@MA: It’s a little harder to yell at your kids for playing too many video games when they’re simultaneously training for the Tour de France…

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