Wahoo CEO Interview by DC Rainmaker

Interesting stuff, take a listen if you have time.

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really nice interview! no wahoo watch anymore :sob: is not a good news

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I’m waiting for a text executive summary of the interview.

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Unfortunately, he didn’t bring up the Wahooligan name issue. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the word appears on the packaging for the secret new product to launch in January.

The interview is worth watching.

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Well since my charging dock died, guess the timing is good?

FFS. :man_facepalming:t2:

Executive Summary:

  • Rival watch: will continue to be supported, but no new watch hardware products planned
  • Lots of plans for integrations with Zwift
  • Kickr Desk, Fan, Climb all due for an update
  • Apple TV support for SYSTM is coming
  • Europe is biggest market. By countries it’s USA, UK, Germany…
  • Wahoo has no debt and enough cash reserves at the moment
  • Something is coming out in January that has been in the works for a decade…

I just picked the forward-looking points, the interview goes into a lot more detail about historical decisions…

Interesting interview, thanks @Rick for sharing.

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And yet here we are w the hooliganism tone-deafness.

:thinking:

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I’d add that they had an awful experience with private equity, and when the CEO bought the business back it was unsustainable so sacrifices were made - RGT, and the Boulder Sports Science centre. Rival was part of this because they saw they couldn’t keep up with other smart/sports watch competitors

Growth needs to be more organic, and won’t come from bikes/trainers for a year or two. There is year on year growth coming from software subscriptions.

Sufferfest came with technical debt, biggest of which is the video player. Fixing this will lead to Apple TV version.

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Of note, no ETA was given or implied… so don’t hold your breath, but still planned at least.

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Here’s a list of the questions from the interview with Chip Hawkins, followed by a summary of his responses.

1. How many people work in this building overall, and for the company as a whole?

  • Chip mentions that a little over 100 people work in the Atlanta headquarters, with about 200 employees globally.

2. Explain what “Wahoo” comes from, how docks are involved, and how you got here.

  • The name “Wahoo” originated from Wahoo Creek in North Georgia, where the previous boat dock business Hawkins purchased was located. Wahoo Fitness was an offshoot of that dock business.

3. Out of all the products that you’ve built over the last 12-15 years, what’s your favorite?

  • Hawkins’ favorite product is the Rival watch, which he uses daily for running. He also has a fondness for the more unique products like the fan and the climb.

4. What’s the plan with the watch? Where do you see the watch in general in 2023 going out to 2024?

  • Hawkins believes it’s challenging to keep up with the pace of innovation in the smartwatch market. While he loves the Rival watch, he says Wahoo will not focus on becoming a watch company, given the competition from brands like Garmin, Coros, Apple, and Google. There will be no Rival 2 or 3 or 4.

5. Wahoo is known as a premium brand. What drives the prices of products like the KICKR bikes so high?

  • The high price of KICKR bikes is due to the advanced technology and physics models they incorporate to simulate real-world cycling dynamics, which require significant research and development.

6. Why haven’t we seen the forward drive, the electromagnetic flywheel introduced on the KICKR bike, come back to the trainer side?

  • Implementing the electromagnetic flywheel in trainers would significantly increase the cost, and Hawkins believes it’s not essential for the ride feel since physical gear shifting can achieve the desired effect.

7. Why didn’t the RGT platform work out for you guys?

  • Despite significant investment and effort, the RGT platform did not progress as hoped, leading Wahoo to ultimately move away from it.

8. What was the changing point for you to decide to go from being enemies with Zwift to being best friends?

  • Hawkins cites the lack of sense in competing with Zwift when both companies could benefit from cooperation. This led to the decision to resolve differences and work together.

9. Where do you see that partnership going now?

  • Wahoo has plans for further integration with Zwift, aiming to improve both their hardware and the platform.

10. Do you have concerns about the impact of the Wahoo-Zwift partnership on smaller industry players?

  • Hawkins is not overly concerned about smaller players being impacted, as he sees Wahoo and Zwift as small players themselves in a broader market that includes companies like Apple and Peloton.

11. Do you see a place in the industry for having some sort of event that focuses on protocols and interoperability?

  • While formal events like the ANT+ Symposium have become less common, Hawkins believes the spirit of cooperation remains, and companies continue to share and test new developments informally.

12. The KICKR desk hasn’t seen an update in ever. Why not?

  • Hawkins acknowledges the need for an update to the KICKR desk and hints at upcoming refreshes for it and other products like the fan and climb.

13. If you could go anywhere in the world and run one place and ride one place, what are your favorites?

  • For running, Hawkins loves Rome, especially at sunrise near landmarks like the Pantheon and the Colosseum. For cycling, he enjoys the challenging but beautiful Sa Calobra climb in Mallorca.

14. Do you worry more generally about consolidation in the fitness industry?

  • Hawkins does not worry about industry consolidation, noting that there is still plenty of competition and innovation in the bike world.

15. Where do you see AI fitting in the fitness landscape best today?

  • AI is already contributing to coaching platforms, and Hawkins sees potential for AI to provide personalized training plans and performance feedback.

16. What’s your thinking behind closing the sport performance center in Boulder?

  • The decision was based on rationalizing company expenses, as maintaining an office in Boulder no longer made sense in the current climate.

17. From an organizational strategy standpoint, where do you have different work groups?

  • Wahoo’s main engineering work is done in Atlanta, with sales and customer service in London. They also have teams in the Netherlands, China, Japan, and Germany, with remote workers worldwide.

18. What is your biggest market?

  • Europe is Wahoo’s biggest market, followed by the US and the UK.

19. How do you see the recovery of the industry, especially the indoor trainer industry, as we go into 2024?

  • The indoor trainer market is normalizing after the pandemic bubble, with Wahoo seeing growth. However, the broader bike industry may still face challenges with excess inventory.

20. Are you guys at the point where you’re starting to hire again?

  • Wahoo has started hiring strategically but remains cautious, focusing on replacing attrition rather than expanding rapidly.

21. How do you feel about your financial footing now going forward?

  • Hawkins feels confident about Wahoo’s financial position, with no debt and sufficient cash reserves to invest in product development.

22. When will we see SYSTM finally on Apple TV?

  • Hawkins cannot provide a timeline but assures that it is in the works, with technical debt from the acquisition of Sufferfest being addressed.

23. Where do you see you guys fitting into the greater scheme of bike computers now?

  • Wahoo aims to balance simplicity with innovation, ensuring that new features do not complicate the user experience.

24. What do you want to hint at for the future for 2024?

  • Hawkins teases a game-changing product set to release in January, which he has been working on for years and is excited to unveil.
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Wow. First, welcome to the forum and quite the first post! Having watched the video as well, I think this is an excellent summary…

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Thank you kindly! I just got a Kickr Shift bike and switched to Systm for my structured training so I e been lurking here for a bit.

I was excited to see the interview with Ray and Chip since I’ve been curious about the future of Systm after reading some concerned posts.

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I just want to upload the training plan in Elemnt Rival :smiling_face_with_tear:

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Agreed @ekrl - thanks for this! I have zero faith and confidence in anything that comes out of wahoo corporate at this point, and think the bean-counters are driving the train, but really appreciate your synopsis!

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I would just like the current features to actually be functional, for a start - but yeah, improved functionality and interoperability with wahoo’s OWN environment would be nice.

And yet I hear it’s the CEO’s favorite product…

:roll_eyes:

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@CPT_A Really? The founder led a group that bought back the company to save it from bankruptcy. That isn’t a story that you see much these days. I am psyched to see this company back on its front foot and look forward to hearing more about the January announcement.

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If you watch the DCR video from the start, at about 17 seconds there is a big ‘WAHOOLIGAN’ painted on the wall of their facility…

And he was wearing an Apple Watch in the video while talking about how he uses it all the time! :slight_smile:

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My point.

:man_facepalming:t2:

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Don’t get me wrong - venture capital is a plague. I applaud the transition. I just don’t trust/believe that the company makes good decisions in the best interest of their (far too loyal) customer base and (far too dedicated) employees.

Based solely on what we’ve all been watching the past couple of years.

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