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Social network for athletes has also secured new funding from Brazil, its fastest-growing market

Strava has announced that Kevin Weil, who has led product development at two of the world’s leading social networks, is to join its board. The athlete-focused social network has also revealed that it has secured investment from Brazil, which it says is currently its fastest-growing network.

Weil has worked for the past year as head of product at Instagram, including leading the development of Instagram Stories – sharable photo and video montages that expire after 24 hours – as the Facebook-owned business sought to counter the threat from rival Snapchat. He will remain in his full-time role with Instagram after joining Strava's board.

Before moving to Instagram early in 2016, he worked as vice-president of product at Twitter, where he was responsible for product marketing, and design including the video apps Vine and Periscope. He also took charge of the social network’s advertising platform while it was going through its initial public offering (IPO) in 2013.

Aged in his early 30s, Weil abandoned a Ph.D in theoretical particle physics at Stanford to pursue his tech career, and has become a big hitter in Silicon Valley – in 2014, when his annual salary at Twitter was a little over $250,000, stock options and bonuses took his total compensation package to $13 million.

Weil is a long-standing Strava member – his passion is running, including ultramarathons, and he is also a cyclist – and according to the social network “brings a unique perspective to Strava’s board.”

He said: “Anyone can be an athlete, and the fitness category deserves its own network for social engagement among like-minded individuals.

“I’m excited to be invited to Strava’s board at a time when they are rapidly becoming the primary way that athletes connect.

“Strava is, and will continue to be, a place where athletes like myself can continue to interact, inspire and motivate each other.”

It’s clearly a significant board appointment for Strava, which has long emphasised the social media side of its platform, such as enabling users to create their own Strava Story videos as well as interacting with one another.

> Relive your 2016 on Strava with a nifty video

Besides income from subscriptions and entries to one-off challenges, it has also monetised its data through licensing data gathered from its users to urban planners via its Strava Metro product, which by last year had been rolled out in 85 cities worldwide.

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Strava CEO Mark Gainey, co-founder of the business in 2009 with Michael Horvath and who in the past has underscored the “community” aspect of Strava, said of Weil’s appointment: “Kevin is a tremendous addition to the team.

“We are focused on building a highly-experienced board with backgrounds spanning sports, fitness, software development and technology platforms that were the first of their kind.

“Kevin’s knowledge will bring our team a fresh perspective that helps us continue the rapid growth and support of our global community of athletes.”

In 2014, Strava secured $18.5 million funding in a fourth wave of venture capital funding led by Sequoia Capital along with Jackson Square Partners (then known as Sigma West) and Madrone Capital Partners.

Those investors remain on board and are now joined by Brazilian investors led by Go4it in a strategic investment round that closed last month.

“We could not be more excited to have Go4it and other key international investors join the Strava team,” said Gainey.

“These partnerships allow Strava to continue to build our social network for athletes and fuel innovation.

“Being an athlete is universal, and the passion and growth we’ve seen in the Brazilian market are impressive. ”

Mark Lemann, partner at Go4it, said: "Our investment in Strava is aligned with our strategy of investing in innovative sports technology companies and sports assets.

“We are extremely excited by the growth potential for Strava and look forward to supporting the company in their expansion strategy, especially in Brazil and Latin America which has a highly social and connected population,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

24 comments

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tritecommentbot [2268 posts] 9 months ago
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Interesting, not sure where Strava wants to go. I think we'll see a social media creep - better photo sharing, maybe video sharing and take it from there. On site personal blog posts? Auto-blogging, where your activities form a timeline and you can fill in with posts if you want to? 

Zwift integration should be better in 2017/2018 I'd assume - Zwift specific challenges perhaps? Can't wait to see the Glorious Tears™ when that happens. 

 

 

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6F2 [13 posts] 9 months ago
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"social media creep" that's a good phrase, I suspect the same...interface might change...messaging.....would like to see the cc bit developed further....live streaming of rides....maybe sponsoring and streaming of races. If they could take the groups element of facebook and add it to Strava that would be useful, maybe some functionality related to cycling you can't get on Fb groups etc.

 

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mrmo [2096 posts] 9 months ago
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Social media creep seems inevitable, for everyone there will be a day when you can't beat PBs, so why would you use Strava? The ability to add photos etc points where it is going IMO. 

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Leviathan [2864 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

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nadsta [182 posts] 9 months ago
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Surely his appointment and the new VC are linked?  

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Yorkshire wallet [1567 posts] 9 months ago
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I'd like an angry as fuck emoji for when Strava turns your KOM into a hidden section!

Not too fussed about all these potential social media features tbh, only really interested in numbers and positions. One is a measure of self improvement, the other functions are just piffle.

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LarryDavidJr [377 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

Hopefully this will be good for them. As a tech business, strava has been stagnating for far too long, showing very little innovation over the past few years. The forums show lots of features that users have been asking for, for a long time, yet Strava seem content to sit on their hands.

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davel [1967 posts] 9 months ago
3 likes
LarryDavidJr wrote:

Hopefully this will be good for them. As a tech business, strava has been stagnating for far too long, showing very little innovation over the past few years. The forums show lots of features that users have been asking for, for a long time, yet Strava seem content to sit on their hands.

Hmmm... Not sure a Vice President of Emojis and Being Bought By Facebook will fix your latter point (which I totally agree with).

Case in point: fitness, form and fatigue tracking for anything other than cycling. It's already a Premium feature, they've almost nailed it, but it only works if all you do is ride. That half marathon and all the training for it? Didn't affect your fitness one bit. Your morning commute? Here, have a few fitness points.

There's been a strava forum thread requesting that for ages, with loads of users saying they were cancelling their Premium membership in favour of the much more expensive TrainingPeaks, or, now, the free Stravistix browser plug-in (there've been some positive noises out of strava in the thread recently but, er, Stravistix is free, or a donation, and faster-moving, and it's ONE GUY). I bet they implement a sitting-on-your-arse-drinking-a-latte-while-talking-about-a-ride-you-might-do emoji first.

That stuff should be strava's core, but it just hasn't been given priority. So I've got used to extending the strava stuff with other platforms:
TrainingPeaks/Stravistix for fitness tracking
RidewithGPS/Garmin Connect for route mapping
Veloviewer for various other ride stats.

What does that leave strava for? The social media stuff. For me, it's the least important aspect of what strava could do, but it's difficult to get away from once you're in. Mr Instagram might work some magic here, but they really don't want to tread on Facebook/Instagram's toes. If an established social media platform buys say ridewithgps, strava's game is up. And, disappointingly, it shows you where they're heading - they're not hiring Dave Scott or Joe Friel or Andy Coggan... I hope they piss Facebook off.

tl;dr - strava has all your ride/run/swim data but isn't interested in using it for you. LOL!  3

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Morat [280 posts] 9 months ago
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How long before you can live stream to strava from your Garmin Virb with all the data overlays in place? I suspect there'll be a new crop of Strava Stars (mainly female like other video/streaming platforms) in fetching lycra as soon as there's ad revenue to be had.

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tritecommentbot [2268 posts] 9 months ago
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Think that's on the money Morat.

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Veloism [75 posts] 9 months ago
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Leviathan wrote:

Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's. Age Group KOM's.

You alright there hun?

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Kapelmuur [401 posts] 9 months ago
4 likes

I've been using Strava for about 4 years and for me their main problem is to keep it fresh after the novelty has worn off.

I guess I'm typical in that 48 weeks of the year I'm starting from the same place and riding the same routes, so after a while it's impossible to beat PRs.

I'm 70 this year so I'm not expecting to get faster, the age group rankings on Strava stop at 65+, there's nothing from 70+.   I'm a premium subscriber because I want to compare my performances with people my age, if they don't add 70+ then there's no point in subscribing.   

I have been in contact with them and they have responded that they will consider adding 70+ and age PRs.

I'm not interested in age KoMs, even though I have some.   I know they're meaningless and don't imagine that I'm the best 69 year old sprinter in the North West just because I'm top of the 65+ board on some flat segments.   However, I'd like to be able to see my own age bests so that there's a reason to continue with Strava as I get older. 

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arckuk [73 posts] 9 months ago
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The only extra feature I want from Strava is a useful (one already exists, but is all but hidden, and very poor) gear and component tracking system. I'd like to be able to take stuff on and off my bike, and for it to track distance and/or ride time, and to be able to edit these data retrospectively. An alert when I reach x km on a particular piece of kit would be a good reminder for service/replacement. Doesn't sound very difficult to impleement, and it would actually be useful. The lack of emojis has not so far been an issue.

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tritecommentbot [2268 posts] 9 months ago
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@ Kapel Not sure about that, all the best hill sprints and other tasty sections in any popular cycling route will be targetted by KOM hunters. You don't understand Strava if you don't realise how competitive it is. People dope to get KOMs. Wait all year for the perfect tailwind to snipe one. 

So yes, age related KOMs are definitely a very worthwhile addition. You can filter, but, that's not quite the same thing. 

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shufflingb [24 posts] 9 months ago
4 likes

The thing with Strava is that up to now they've not figured out what they're about. So whilst they've got hundreds of thousands of users, they still don't know how to make enough money from them to sustain and develop the business. 

They're squeezed in the middle. On the sports side,  if you compare to what you get with something like Garmin Connect, or similar, that a "pro", or keen amateur, is likely to have access to, why upgrade? Whilst on the social side of things, there's no messaging and the photo editing/upload is crap, I'm not bombarded with ads on the free page, again why upgrade?  Then on the business side they've  also many potential competitors waiting in the wings e.g. Runkeeper, Garmin, Apple, Facebook, Google.

I think the new money is almost certainly to execute a business plan that is intended to repay the original VC's fairly quickly. I like Strava, for all its lack of business acumen there's something a bit special about it and I do hope the plan isn't one that involves covering the site in ads and selling out to Facebook.

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davel [1967 posts] 9 months ago
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arckuk wrote:

The only extra feature I want from Strava is a useful (one already exists, but is all but hidden, and very poor) gear and component tracking system. I'd like to be able to take stuff on and off my bike, and for it to track distance and/or ride time, and to be able to edit these data retrospectively. An alert when I reach x km on a particular piece of kit would be a good reminder for service/replacement. Doesn't sound very difficult to impleement, and it would actually be useful. The lack of emojis has not so far been an issue.

Since it lets you assign activities to different bikes, I briefly considered setting up different configurations as bikes (TT bike - training wheels; TT bike - carbon 52s etc).

But as soon as I thought about it I realised that the sheer combinations of configurations and maintaining them would be unwieldy, so I decided against creating that particular monster.

Would be good if you could break bikes down by configuration - say have a default one per bike and then set up gear to select against the bike - if you're interested in doing that. Track the mileage on bits of kit, with strava managing the configurations for you.

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cyclesteffer [284 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

I like it as is, just wish they had an option to hide Turbo Trainer or Zwift rides from the feed.

 I know I could unfollow them, but I dont want to hurt their feelings.

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alansmurphy [1192 posts] 9 months ago
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Davel - the "What does that leave Strava for" may already be a bit late - somewhat like the Apple revolution.

 

How can I pack up all my Strava history and move it with me?

 

As for the social aspect - as some have suggested - need to think outside of Facebook and Instagram and look at real world and virtual cycling clubs. Decent mapping, sharing and organisation of group rides (a bit like Teamer in some other sports) would be great!

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davel [1967 posts] 9 months ago
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alansmurphy wrote:

Davel - the "What does that leave Strava for" may already be a bit late - somewhat like the Apple revolution.

 

How can I pack up all my Strava history and move it with me?

Yeah, I know...  would be nice if there was just one platform, like I thought strava was going to be when I joined, but that'd be too convenient, wouldn't it...?

Thought Garmin might be about to challenge a couple of years back, with its app and its segments. That'd be handy for me because I'm completely bought into Garmin's gizmos now and I've had a Garmin multisports watch for yonks so all my historic activities are already there. But, Garmin being Garmin, they Garminned it and it is a long way off being all things to... well, any men.  I think I have 3 connections with other Garmin nerds.

Strava does seem to be pushing the clubs a bit this year, and yes, 'social media creep' is what's coming. God, there are already sites for the look-at-me-mob...  I need to ready a lifeboat. RidewithGPS...???

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mrKOM [1 post] 9 months ago
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The cadence of feature releases slowing is not a surprise -- consider that, unlike when the company was founded, they were building for one user (a cyclist) using one type of device (a Garmin watch). Now they are building for multiples sports for users wearing a plethora of devices (mobile apps, Garmins, Apple Watches).

Combined with the fact that the company is aging, turning over, and getting bigger (headcount of nearly 200 if you look at its company page - wow!) -- and you have your answer as to why the service feels stagnant.

The time will come -- or, maybe the time is now -- when the owners will harvest what has been sown here. Either make money off users' engagement in the form of ads and partnerships or force them into the subscription plans. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not know how this works. 

As to whether the platform will be socialized further (emojis and the like), who knows -- that strategy could dovetail with an approach of hitting users with ads, whereas the people who might be tempted to pay for bells and whistles are going to want features, as this comment section is echoing.

LarryDavidJr wrote:

Hopefully this will be good for them. As a tech business, strava has been stagnating for far too long, showing very little innovation over the past few years. The forums show lots of features that users have been asking for, for a long time, yet Strava seem content to sit on their hands.

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. . [190 posts] 9 months ago
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alansmurphy wrote:

How can I pack up all my Strava history and move it with me?

tapiriik.com

Copy everything into Dropbox if you want the raw data

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J90 [421 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

This will just add to their shitty mentality: don't listen to anything the users say, only money is important.
Their "support" forum and the staff are a joke, they don't even respond to any common issues and if they do, they always basically say they're not interested in the issue anyway.

They've gotten too big.

Morat wrote:

How long before you can live stream to strava from your Garmin Virb with all the data overlays in place? I suspect there'll be a new crop of Strava Stars (mainly female like other video/streaming platforms) in fetching lycra as soon as there's ad revenue to be had.

Gotta get those cleavage shots!

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Leviathan [2864 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
unconstituted wrote:

@ Kapel Not sure about that, all the best hill sprints and other tasty sections in any popular cycling route will be targetted by KOM hunters. You don't understand Strava if you don't realise how competitive it is. People dope to get KOMs. Wait all year for the perfect tailwind to snipe one. 

So yes, age related KOMs are definitely a very worthwhile addition. You can filter, but, that's not quite the same thing. 

Good going Kapel. Proper age KOMs would save you having to inspect each segment. I wouldn't dope just for Strava, that seems just nuts; but then people will dope just to go down the gym and flex in front of strangers.

As for wind assists, you don't have to wait all year. You just have to notice when it is blowing a hooley and then check which segments go that way in your area, bingo KOM's. Just be prepared to zig zag back to the start.  

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Sadoldsamurai [44 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

 [I bet they implement a sitting-on-your-arse-drinking-a-latte-while-talking-about-a-ride-you-might-do emoji first.]

 

Yes please!

Only being on the paleo diet, it's an americano with cream....