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Strava raises $18.5 million in new funding, plans to take over the world

Virtual racing app targets non-English-speaking users & other sports

Virtual racing app Strava is planning to expand beyond its core user base of cycling in English-speaking countries using $18.5 million of funding raised in a recent investment round.

Strava CEO Mark Gainey told Re/Code's Lauren Goode that the company plans to use the funding for “growth expansion.”

“We’re now approaching the point where 75 percent of our users exist outside of the U.S.,” he said. “We’re also seeing that people are using Strava across multiple sports, so we’re exploring how to build out the service in an authentic way in all areas of sports.”

Despite Strava's expansion outside the US, Gainey said: “The Bay Area continues to be a bit of a bubble for us.” Most of the service's international users are from English-speaking countries, he added.

Gainey would not say how many users the San Francisco-based company has, or how many pay for its US$59/year premium service. Founded in 2009, Strava now records around three million activities each week.

The service is extremely popular with cyclists, sometimes controversially, with Strava being blamed for reckless rider behaviour and anti-social clubruns. But around 30 percent of its users track their running activity through the app, and 10 to 15 percent of users record activities such as hiking, skiing, weight training, swimming and yoga.

The funding round was led by venture capital company Sequoia Capital and partner Michael Moritz has become an adviser to Strava. Moritz sees Strava's current success as a analogous to social networks such as facebook - it's a "sporting network".

He said: "We think that Strava is cleverly engaged with a sizable audience and is developing the personal sporting network in a way that’s different from many other apps.”

Moritz is a Strava user himself, but cautioned: "Whoever is on Strava should never, ever try to emulate my own athletic performance. It isn’t the path to growth for any individual.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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