Meet Peloton's new CEO, an ex-Spotify exec taking the helm amid major cuts and investor pressure
Barry McCarthyis taking the PelotonCEO reins from founder John Foley.
- He spent eight years at Spotify, where he was the chief financial officer, then a board member.
Barry McCarthy, Peloton's hope for a turnaround, is a seasoned tech leader with decades of financial management under his belt.
Starting Wednesday, the 68-year-old will be Peloton's CEO and president. He'll join the company's board, while founder John Foley will become its chair. McCarthy will oversee a vast restructuring, with 2,800 employees' jobs on the chopping block as part of cost-cutting measures that come on the back of falling demand for at-home fitness.
"I have always thought there has to be a better CEO for Peloton than me," Foley told The Wall Street Journal. "Barry is more perfectly suited than anybody I could've imagined."
McCarthy will move from California to New York. He views his background in subscription models as complementing Foley's expertise in product and marketing, The Journal reported.
"Together we can make a complete grown-up and build a really remarkable business," McCarthy told The Journal.
The new CEO's career spans big companies like Netflix and Spotify, plus a short stint at the failed startup Crinkle, where he oversaw the layoffs of one-quarter of the staff. McCarthy's various chief-financial-officer and board roles afford him deep relationships with institutional investors, some of whom he'll need as Peloton navigates a precipitous stock decline. Shares were down 18% this year at Monday's close, at $29.75.
Here's how his career unfolded:
Pioneering a new public offering at Spotify
McCarthy spent the past eight years at Spotify. He joined the audio platform as a board member in 2014 and came on full time as its chief financial officer in 2015. As chief financial officer, he pioneered a way for startups to go public through a direct listing instead of an initial public offering, which Spotify completed in April 2018. He pitched the direct listing as a way to cut the costs, travel, and other headaches associated with an IPO.
Spotify leadership then evangelized the direct listing to other tech companies. Slack, Coinbase, Palantir, and other companies have since taken this route to trade publicly.
"I know no other CFO that could have taken us public and led us as steadily through an innovative direct listing and the time that has followed," Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement to Recode when McCarthy retired in January 2020. McCarthy rejoined the company's board upon his retirement, where he's still a director.
From DVDs to streaming-service launch at Netflix
McCarthy spent 11 years as Netflix's chief financial officer, from 1999 to 2010. Reed Hastings, the company's founder, recruited him on a ski trip, and the pair grew a DVD-by-mail business, which rivaled the brick-and-mortar rental store Blockbuster before launching a streaming service in 2007.
"There aren't a lot of companies in Silicon Valley who have been successful at reinventing themselves for revenue 2.0 of their business model," McCarthy said on a 2008 podcast, according to CNET.
He also helped take Netflix public in 2002, in an IPO that opened at $1.21 a share. By McCarthy's December 2010 departure, the stock traded at about $25.
"You should be confident that I'm leaving the business in good shape," McCarthy said at a conference before his exit. "There is nothing that I know that you don't know that would cause you to be sleepless about your position in the stock."
Netflix stock now trades at about $400 a share.
Brief stint at a payments startup
McCarthy left Netflix because he wanted to be either a CEO or a chief operating officer. He took the latter role at the payments startup Clinkle in October 2013 but lasted only six months. Under CEO Lucas Duplan, who was 22 at the time, McCarthy laid off about one-quarter of the startup's staff two months into his short stint.
"They're not nearly as close to scaling the businesses as I thought they were when I came in the door," McCarthy told Recode in March 2014. "And that's what I do."
Board seats at Rent the Runway, Chegg, and others
McCarthy has sat on myriad tech- and consumer-focused companies' boards, including Pandora, Rent the Runway, Wealthfront, Eventbrite, and Chegg.
Most recently, he joined Instacart's board in January 2021, and he remains on Spotify's board.
McCarthy also has some venture-capital experience. He joined the Netflix investor Technology Crossover Ventures as a partner in 2011, where he spent less than a year before becoming its executive advisor for a decade.
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