Online Fitness Platform Zwift Raises $450 Million in Latest Funding Round

    • Zwift plans to bring its own hardware to market.
    • The at-home digital fitness category has surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Online fitness training platform Zwift raised $450 million in a new investment round led by U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co Inc. in exchange for a minority stake, the company announced. 

Private equity firm Permira, Amazon Alexa Fund, and Zone 5 Ventures — Specialized Bicycle Components’ venture capital fund — were also investors in the round.

Zwift, geared towards runners and cyclists, uses gaming technology to “bring the outdoor experience indoors” with immersive graphics. For $15 per month, users interact, train and compete with each other by wirelessly pairing a smart bike trainer or treadmill to the Zwift app.

Since its launch in 2015, the Long Beach, Calif.-based company has had over 2.5 million accounts registered across 190 countries, and has benefitted from users looking for ways to stay active and social amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The new round of funding will be used to “accelerate the development of Zwift’s core software platform” and bring its own hardware to market, the company said.

Zwift has recently focused efforts on the physically-powered esports category. It hosted the first Virtual Tour de France in July, which was broadcast in over 130 countries and drew 117,000 users, according to TechCrunch. In December, Zwift will be the host platform for the inaugural UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.

The manufacturer Specialized’s new investment “represents the beginning of a strategic partnership,” Zwift said. 

The at-home fitness category at large has surged amid the pandemic. 

Peloton, which has its own line of stationary bikes, treadmills, and digital-only classes, reported a 172% increase in revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter. Its digital subscriptions — where users pay $12.99 per month for workouts streamed to smartphones and streaming devices — increased 210% year-over-year.

On Sept. 15, Apple got into the digital fitness game, as well. The company announced Apple Fitness Plus, with initial offerings including cycling, rowing, high-intensity interval training, strength training and yoga workouts. The workouts can be viewed on the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.