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After a year-long search, Strava appointed YouTube exec Michael Martin as the new CEO

Image Credits: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto / Getty Images
Image Credits: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto / Getty Images

After a year-long search, Strava appointed YouTube exec Michael Martin as the new CEO. The announcement that Michael Horvath, co-founder and CEO of the company, will resign was made in February. Even though it has been over a year since Strava said that co-founder Michael Horvath would be stepping down from his position as CEO for a second time, the company has now revealed who will succeed him.

Michael Martin is expected to begin his new position at Strava on January 2, 2024. He will be leaving his present position as general manager at the commerce section of YouTube. Nike, NBCUniversal Media, and Disney have employed Martin in technology-related capacities.

Beginning in 2009, Horvath and Mark Gainey were the co-founders of Strava. Gainey initially served as the firm’s CEO. Still, he eventually handed over the reins to Horvath, who continued to lead the company until 2013, when he departed for reasons related to his family. Afterward, Gainey was promoted to CEO until 2017, when Instagram executive James Quarles succeeded him. Horvath became CEO in 2019, so Gainey continued to serve as executive chairman.

In his announcement that he would depart for a second time, Horvath stated that he believed the firm required a fresh individual to steer the next phase of its expansion. This was the reason he made his announcement. When asked about it, he stated, “As co-founder and CEO, it is only part of my job to ensure that we are picking the right path to that destination’s destination.” “The other aspect of it is to ensure that we are always recruiting and supporting the appropriate leaders at the appropriate times.”

The organization, which has been operational for fourteen years, has now become millions of people’s activity-tracking platform of choice. It enables users to record and share all of their rides and runs with their friends worldwide. Strava had substantial growth during the worldwide pandemic, resulting in the company’s Series F fundraising round of $110 million in late 2020. Since then, the company has reported expanding from 70 million users to more than 120 million members today.

Strava, like all other firms that get funding from venture capitalists, will soon reach a point where it must generate some return for its investors. This might take the form of a sale to a larger company or an initial public offering. Strava must be in the best possible position, regardless of the conclusion, which is why the company has been working hard to strengthen its platform over the last year. In January, it purchased the 3D mapping platform Fatmap, which now offers 3D video flyovers of users’ GPS routes within the Strava app.

When Strava introduced in-app messaging a week ago, it fully embraced the social network concept. The purpose of this feature was to encourage users to conduct all of their organizational activities within the Strava app itself.

However, in the midst of all of this, Strava introduced a pricing upgrade that was both confusing and inconsistent. The annual subscription for a typical customer in the United States increased from $60 to $80 per month, and the monthly fee increased from $8 to $12. This was a significant increase of fifty percent, which caused the Strava community to be confused.

From the outside, it would appear like Strava has been having difficulty capitalizing on its recent expansion, even though it has been looking for methods to increase the amount of money it profits from its customers. And here is probably where Martin comes into play.

At YouTube, he is focused on assisting artists in “building and diversifying their businesses through commerce.” Therefore, it is not entirely out of the question that Strava may be aiming to diversify its revenue in addition to selling subscriptions or data and insights. Therefore, discovering methods to earn money from that contingent, whether through advertising, affiliate agreements, or some other means, might be the way ahead under the new leadership of Strava. The free version of Strava is sufficient for the majority of individuals.

When Martin joins the company at the beginning of January, he will also take a seat on the board, joining other notable individuals such as Gainey and Gustav Gyllenhammar, an executive at Spotify. Moreover, it appears that Horvath will continue to serve as an “executive advisor to the CEO” for the foreseeable future.

“I am extremely proud of what the Strava team has accomplished, particularly over the course of the past four years, during which we built our subscription with the requirements of our community in mind and strengthened our foundation for future growth,” said Michael Horvath, who is also the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Strava. I am sure we have identified a leader in Michael Martin who can further build Strava’s momentum and to whom I can hand over the organization’s leadership. I look forward to the opportunity to serve as an advisor to the CEO.

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