Would a Peloton acquisition make sense for Amazon or Nike?

Photo: Peloton
Feb 07, 2022

Amazon and Nike are reportedly exploring separate bids for Peloton, the beleaguered leader in internet-connected bikes and treadmills.

Peloton’s stock became an overnight darling of Wall Street after the pandemic shuttered gyms and led to explosive demand for the company’s at-home bikes and treadmills and instructor-led on-demand workout classes.

In November, Peloton indicated demand for its exercise bikes and treadmills was slowing faster than expected as gyms reopened. On January 20, Peloton issued preliminary quarterly results that showed subscribers came in below expectations while announcing significant cost-cutting measures. At the end of this month, the company will start to tack on shipping and setup fees for its bike and treadmills, in part due to inflation.

Peloton’s market capitalization has shrunk to about $8 billion from a peak of nearly $52 billion in early 2021.

In late January, activist investor Blackwells Capital issued a letter demanding the company fire co-founder and CEO John Foley and explore a sale. Blackwells’ letter speculated that Apple, Walt Disney and Nike could be potential buyers.

On Friday, Peloton’s shares were trading up around 30 percent in after-hours trading after the Wall Street Journal first reported Amazon’s interest, followed by news of Nike’s interest from the Financial Times. The WSJ reported that other potential suitors are showing interest, though no deal is said to be imminent.

For Amazon, a Peloton purchase could accelerate its broad ambitions in healthcare and wellness by tapping insights from Peloton’s 2.8 million subscribers. In 2020, Amazon introduced its wearable Halo products to compete with Google-owned Fitbit and other fitness devices. The WSJ also speculated that Amazon could help ease Peloton’s logistics challenges and that the company’s subscriptions could be bundled with Prime.

Nike exited its Fuelband wearable-hardware efforts in 2014, but a Peloton acquisition may fit with the brand’s data-led digital transformation being guided by John Donahoe, CEO, since the start of 2020. Said Mr. Donahoe on a December quarterly call, “We are in an era where that is the liquid gold for any brand is to have a direct connection with the consumer.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would a Peloton purchase make more sense for Amazon, Nike or neither? Where do you see the most value in Peloton for a potential owner: its subscribers, data or hardware?

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"Nike’s fitness expertise, merchandising chops, and digital platform would allow Peloton and its instructors to grow rather than become just another cog in Amazon’s wheel."

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27 Comments on "Would a Peloton acquisition make sense for Amazon or Nike?"

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Mark Ryski

A Nike acquisition presents the best opportunity for both Nike and Peloton. The potential synergies of putting together one of the leading athletic brands with arguably the leading connected fitness equipment brand are many. Everyone is rightly chasing connected users and they lust after recurring revenue. This would represent an important new revenue opportunity for Nike. And in addition to the connected users, the equipment itself is a good fit with Nike’s existing lines. Overall, this would likely be a successful acquisition for Nike and the beleaguered Peloton. I don’t see any of the same opportunities with Amazon.

Doug Garnett

I don’t think a Peleton acquisition makes sense for either. The company is over-valued and they wouldn’t be able to leverage the purchase appropriately. If Peleton is sold it would benefit a company involved in the specific fitness equipment business – as when ProForm bought NordicTrack and was able to expand the brand value.

Carol Spieckerman

As a Pelotoner, I would love to see Nike win the bid. Nike’s fitness expertise, merchandising chops, and digital platform would allow Peloton and its instructors to grow rather than become just another cog in Amazon’s wheel.

Neil Saunders

Given the slump in Peloton’s share price, it can now be picked up for a relatively cheap price. However that does not mean it is right for any company with cash to jump in and buy it. For Amazon, a deal would provide an entry into the connected fitness market which could be combined with wider services, including an integration with Alexa and possibly Prime. It would also provide another pathway for growth at a time when Amazon’s retail business has slowed down. Nike seems an obvious choice, simply because of the links to fitness and its desire to do more in digital training. Plus there is no doubt Nike could pull in a lot of athletes for one-off classes and events. However, whoever takes it over will have to spend and revitalize the business. There is a reason the shares have slumped – Peloton is not a company on the front foot!

David Spear

Although both could reap many benefits from this acquisition, it’s a better fit for Nike and the “athlete-in-you” lifestyle they are touting. Clearly the data, subscribers and bike software IP offer the most value, which could be blended with other consumer data Nike already controls. Now if neither pull the trigger, it’s my prediction that Peloton will continue to free fall.

Dick Seesel

Amazon may find a Peleton acquisition to be one more way to reach into our digital lives — imagine discounts for Prime members on online classes — and it can leverage its data collection toward more e-commerce sales. But the Nike fit feels better, not only because of the obvious fitness connection but also because of the synergies that Peleton could offer to the parent brand.

Shawn Harris
Shawn Harris
Board Advisor, Light Line Delivery
6 months 3 days ago

Nike feels likes like the obvious choice. I am a Peloton tread and bike user, and Nike is my footwear for both. This places Nike in the home for fitness in a tangible way, they have a platform to accelerate the star power of the Peloton coaches, and the data captured would inform product development and deeper customer engagement personalization. It will probably end up being a PE firm acquisition or evaporate into corporate lifecycle episodic hype; we’ll see.

DeAnn Campbell

While Nike seems like a better alignment given their brand and products are sports and fitness related, I think Amazon has a better chance of maximizing the benefits of Peleton. The problems Peleton are experiencing now are in the dawning realization that their future success will come not from product sales but from subscription services, requiring continuously refreshed content. Amazon already has a robust content engine, including fitness videos, to ensure consistent quality for Peleton subscribers, even expanding to include seniors and physical therapy coaching. And comparing product range for these two potential suitors, Amazon has more SKUs for sports and fitness products than Nike. I’m not eager to see Amazon eat the world, but in this case I’d see them as the better fit to ensure Peloton sticks around for the long term.

Dave Bruno

Just do it, Nike! This deal makes far more sense for Peloton customers and for data-obsessed Nike than it does for Amazon.

Lisa Goller

Both Amazon and Nike would make a good fit for Peloton for data and community, respectively.

Amazon is all about connected home devices, plus Halo wearables data as health and wellness boom. Beyond delivery, if Amazon offers assembly, too, that would add value and delight consumers.

Nike’s Peloton bid would further enhance its fitness community and win over younger adults, especially women.

Peloton data is gold and its enthusiastic community of subscribers ranks second.

Richard Hernandez

I think Apple makes a better fit than Nike or Amazon.

They have invested time and money to create an ecosystem for different types of exercising including cycling. It makes sense.

Nicola Kinsella

Both are data-driven, customer-centric organizations but as a brand extension, a Nike acquisition would be far more valuable for Peloton than Amazon. And far better for Peloton customers.

Nike would take that data and optimize it for customer loyalty, and apply their fitness-obsessed innovation to the service offerings. Whereas long term, Amazon would probably treat it more like their other devices and services (e.g., Kindle, Alexa, Prime Video), and have it become just another shoppable platform.

Raj B. Shroff

I’m not convinced it makes sense for either of them. Amazon already has customer data and they’d be better served figuring out how to monitor health through Alexa devices or hardware that can paint a broader picture. I remember using Nike+, I’m not sure what would be different now. It sounds like a natural fit because they are associated with sports but I don’t see it. Maybe Lululemon buys it, puts bikes in their stores, elevates instructors and also gets their cult fitness following on board.

Gary Sankary

In my mind it certainly makes more sense for Nike than Amazon, but I think the correct answer here is neither. Peloton is an overvalued company at this point. It’s built on a niche product, one that is likely to continue to slow down in growth as consumers become more concerned about inflation.

Mohamed Amer, PhD

Nike is about selling more shoes. Amazon is about consumer data and memberships. Peloton can be accretive to Amazon’s business model much more than Nike’s.

Shep Hyken

It makes sense for both Amazon and Nike to want Peloton, but it’s not a tie. They are really a subscription business. Both companies would love that recurring income with the ability to boost membership numbers. The subscription business is the big play. The bike is like the razor. The subscription is like the blades. Sell the machine for low margin and make the money on the membership dues.

In the end, Nike is about sports/athletes and Amazon is about retail. If you ask which suitor makes more sense, I have to give my nod to Nike. Ultimately, it is up to Peloton. It’s not about what makes most sense to Nike or Amazon, but what makes most sense for Peloton.

Jeff Sward

This sounds like a two-part conversation to me. The first part is strategic fit and long term possibilities and opportunities. The second part is finding the right value.

The market cap dropping to $8 billion from $52 billion makes it sound like quite the deal. But that’s $8 billion for a $4+ billion company that is losing money and is in an obvious state of disrepair (dramatically shrinking gross margins)? Sounds crazy. Or is there a cost per subscriber that makes more sense as a metric? I completely understand why any of the mentioned companies would want to do the due diligence and get a peek under the hood of Peloton. But sales and gross margins and subscribers seem to be a big moving target right now. This is going to be a tough deal to value.

Gene Detroyer

Almost 80 percent of acquisitions fail. One of the biggest reason is overpaying. Even $4 billion may be too much. How much investment would be necessary for any potential acquirer to make and sell a better Peloton?

Jeff Sward

Exactly. And with the pandemic easing a bit, this may be precisely the wrong moment to aggressively enter the at-home fitness business. Seems like both Nike and Apple could do it at their own speed with their own home grown products and be very efficient about it. Lululemon spent “only” $500 million for Mirror and there are already articles about the productivity of that deal. Subscription models make abundant sense, but neither Nike nor Apple need to be quick about writing a check for billions of dollars to get into the game.

Gene Detroyer

I join my colleagues in picking Nike as the obvious choice.

But, for any company contemplating acquiring Peloton, they should see how many of their friends bought a bike (any brand) and are still using it.

Looking at June 2021 data, even before many gyms reopened, less that half of the purchasers continue to use the bike at least once per week. Really, once per week?

Brandon Rael

Nike has made a significant shift in its operating models to become a major service provider for personalized fitness and health, along with its traditional strategies of selling apparel and sneakers. While at the surface, Peloton appears to be overvalued, has experienced its pandemic surge and now is facing challenges, a potential Nike acquisition of Peloton would play well with their fitness, digital, and customer experience focus.

The Nike fitness app has taken off during the pandemic. A potential Peloton acquisition would significantly increase their membership and provide additional customer insights and another powerful digital-first engagement platform. Peloton, despite its recent struggles, still has plenty of brand equity. Combining their fitness community with the Nike fitness and digital-first approach has the most synergies and could be the saving grace Peloton needs. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for both companies.

Ryan Mathews

Why wouldn’t Nike and/or Amazon just create their own branded version of Peloton but with extra bells and whistles? There is no real reason outside accessing user data and that path has issues if consumers object to their “proprietary data” being sold off to either company. Peloton is a mess, so an acquisition only makes sense if you overvalue the data it holds.

Matt Lyles

While this would benefit Amazon from a connected user, customer data, and delivery logistics perspective, the best brand fit would go to a Nike acquisition.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.

Peloton sales are decreasing and the product price is expensive. However the value of customer data and connectedness has value. If the price of products stays the same, acquisition could be valuable for Nike as part of providing options for staying healthy and fit. If the price of the products and services is reduced, the acquisition could make sense for Amazon. Otherwise Amazon might want to examine another company.

Mark Price

The Peloton community is renowned for their level of engagement with the brand and with individual instructors. Such an engaged market would provide a substantial benefit to either Amazon or Nike. For Amazon, Peloton provides additional fuel into the health market as well as additional benefits for Prime membership. For Nike, Peloton replaces the wearable effort and provides a willing market for incremental purchases. As a fervent Peloton user, I believe it’s essential that Peloton remain true to its brand, and both of these potential acquisitions would seem consistent with that.

Lucille DeHart

Amazon and Nike both have the resources to build their own integrated community and fitness platforms. I don’t think the Lululemon-Mirror alignment is adding value and, while there will be some buzz with Peloton, I say let them figure out how to evolve their own brands.

I think it could be more innovative for Peloton to build their own micro-wellness centers and meal delivery service. I know Amazon wants to be the Everything Store, but they need to stay in their lane and focus on transaction-based initiatives. Nike could leverage Peloton, but why?

Anil Patel

Yes, it will be a successful collaboration. Amazon and Nike know how to leverage Peloton’s strengths to make it the best fit for their ecosystem. Just like Amazon Alexa, Peloton’s workout equipment is connected in real-time and collects a ton of customer insights. Amazon and Nike have mastered the art of using these insights to their benefit. They can innovate products to match customers’ needs and ensure a deeper customer engagement.

In the short term, I believe that all three, i.e. Peloton’s subscribers, data or hardware will gain significant value in different ways. Customers trust Peloton’s technology. So they will be more willing to pay more for subscribing to hyper-personalized and innovative items. Data, as mentioned above, will play a vital part in the growth. Amazon and Nike would make the most of zero-party data and find new ways to offer convenience. However, these retailers would have to wait a little longer for long-term gains and persevere through the slow growth.

"Nike’s fitness expertise, merchandising chops, and digital platform would allow Peloton and its instructors to grow rather than become just another cog in Amazon’s wheel."

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