We’ve known that Zwift was getting into the hardware side of things since November 2019, when job listings surfaced for a new Zwift “FitTech” division in Surrey, UK. Since that time there has been much speculation about what Zwift is working to create. Everyone seems to agree that a new smart bike is in the works, but recent sleuthing showed Zwift is working on not just one, but three hardware products.
Zwift has been very hush-hush about all things FitTech, but they are clearly moving full steam ahead on the hardware front, with operations based in London. Their careers page currently lists 9 open positions in the “Connected Products” category, all based in London:
- Embedded Software Engineer
- Embedded Software Engineer (Mid level)
- Hardware UX Designer
- Lead Mechanical Design Engineer
- Manager; Electronics Engineering
- Mechanical Design Engineer
- Mechanical Technician
- R&D Design Manager, Mechanical/Product Design
- Systems Electronics Design Director
The most recently-posted job on that list is “Systems Electronics Design Director” and the opening paragraph of that job description states:
The Director of System Engineering role is a new position within the Fitness Hardware division. The team primarily builds electrical and mechanical systems, as such the Director of System Engineering needs to have significant experience with consumer electronics, managing electronics and firmware engineers, and to have experience with system architecture. The director will manage a team of approximately 10 Engineers, Electrical, firmware, App Developers and Test Engineers.
This paragraph says a lot. It confirms that the FitTech team “primarily builds electrical and mechanical systems”. It tells us the team currently has ~10 members. And the job listing went live on March 15, 2021 – so Zwift is actively hiring in this space.
Which brings us to today’s big news…
Zwift Acquires eDrive Engineering Services Ltd
- Updated Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association states 3(2): Zwift shall from time to time have the right for so long as it is the majority shareholder by notice in writing addressed to the Company, to appoint, maintain in office and remove, one or more persons to be director or directors of the Company and to remove any directors from time to time.
- Appointment details doc shows Zwift CEO Eric Min as accepting the position of director at eDrive
- Three separate documents indicate the three prior directors are no longer in positions of significant control
- Registered address change from The Mill Rectory Farm Mews, Elton to 6th Floor 2 London Wall Place Barbican, London. Is this the location of Zwift’s FitTech division?
eDrive originally incorporated in September 2016 with the following directors:
- Mark Cordner, Managing Director
- Adam Malloy, Chief Engineer
- Till Hanten, Engineer
Based on the documents linked above and a bit of LinkedIn research, it appears that Mark and Adam started Drive after working together at GKN Automotive. They appear to be remaining on as directors (or at least employees), while Till is no longer a director and possibly no longer with the company.
So what does eDrive do?
Our expert team of engineers draws on decades of experience and a track-record of delivering world-class electrical machine (eMachine) and electric drive (eDrive) solutions to leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers.
The team has worked on eMachine development and application projects for the automotive, off-highway, marine, industrial, aerospace and motorsport sectors.
So they are focused on developing electric motors, mostly for motor vehicle applications. But this sort of hardware and experience carries over nicely into the sorts of motors required for – you guessed it – smart trainers.
In fact, at least one smart bike manufacturer we’ve spoken with sources their circuit boards and motors from an electric car company, because smaller motors didn’t have the muscle needed to properly simulate a flywheel affect.
Additionally, eDrive’s list of services includes several items which would come in handy for FitTech’s nimble R&D needs:
- We assemble small batches of eMachines for prototype evaluation, mule vehicle tests and niche applications.
- Our established supply-chain and in-house assembly capability allows us to deliver custom-designed products very quickly, accelerating our customers’ development programmes and allowing them to evaluate representative hardware in record time.
It’s already been said, but it’s worth saying again – if Zwift wants to bring quality hardware to market quickly, acquisitions will be essential. Those acquisitions certainly include experienced employees already in the relevant industries. It may also mean purchasing the rights to patented hardware. And of course, given today’s news, Zwift is clearly willing to acquire a small, nimble company like eDrive whose existing experience and connections can help Zwift get hardware to market more quickly.
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