Who Is Peloton’s New CEO Barry McCarthy?

As part of a major restructuring at Peloton, Barry McCarthy has replaced John Foley as the new CEO, but what path did he take to get here?

Feb. 22, 2022

As part of a major restructuring at Peloton, Barry McCarthy has replaced John Foley as the new CEO, but what path did he take to get here?

After a turbulent number of months for Peloton (NASDAQ: PTON), its stock price has plummeted as it has faced a myriad of problems. Sales boomed during the pandemic, and Peloton’s spending soared, but since then, demand has dwindled, leading to the company halting manufacturing and introducing cost-cutting measures. It has also experienced a public relations (PR) nightmare, from recalling its treadmill due to safety concerns to poor product placement, which has compounded its problems.

With co-founder John Foley stepping aside from the CEO role, Barry McCarthy has now been tasked with effectively turning the company’s fortunes around. Let’s take a look at his life and career to date. 

Early career:

Barry McCarthy is 68 years old, and little is known about his personal life. McCarthy obtained a Bachelor’s degree in History at Williams College before getting an MBA in finance from the Wharton Business School. He started his career at a consulting firm in 1980 and worked in several companies before serving as the CFO for the first time at Music Choice in 1993, prior to landing a role at Netflix

Major roles:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recruited McCarthy as CFO in 1999 after meeting on a skiing trip and was one of the most influential people in the company during his time there. McCarthy nearly left the company in 2004 but is quoted as saying, “you don’t walk out on friends in the middle of a knife fight”. This may give Peloton investors an insight into his values and determination to grow, particularly during tough times. He remained at Netflix until his departure in 2010 and led the company through extraordinary growth as it transformed from shipping DVDs to a giant streaming platform. 

He then held several roles, including a rare failure in a six-month stint as the CEO of Clinkle, before joining Spotify in 2014 as a Board Member and then as CFO a year later. McCarthy helped to drive engagement and its entry into the podcasting space with a couple of acquisitions which has proven thus far to be hugely successful. McCarthy was also a key figure behind Spotify’s decision to go public through a direct listing which was daring but successful and paved the way for other companies such as Airbnb to do the same.

Board roles:

McCarthy has also held roles on the Board of Directors of well-known companies such as Chegg, Eventbrite, Pandora, and more. Currently, he remains on Instacart’s board and as an advisor for venture firm Technology Crossover, a role which he has held since 2011. 

The precursor to a potential sale?:

Due to his experience in finance, the appointment of McCarthy has led to rumours of a potential sale and companies like Apple being touted as potential acquirers. Furthermore, despite activist investors calling for the sale, McCarthy has strongly denied such rumors. Instead he intends to focus on growth and with vast experience working for consumer-technology companies that have subscription business models, McCarthy appears to be well-suited to his new role. Founder Foley has also lended his support stating that “Barry is more perfectly suited than anybody I could’ve imagined”.