Wade Wallace from CyclingTips recently interviewed Zwift co-founders Jon Mayfield and Eric Min to talk about how it all began and what has happened since.
It’s a fascinating interview, and a rare one for Jon Mayfield, the man who in 2010 started building the “JMX Trainer Coach” game that would eventually morph into the Zwift we know and love.
“I still had the Kurt Kinetic box sitting there because I’d just unpacked it, and I see that little graph. And I’m like, I bet you I could write some software to sort of decode my speed and give me realtime power output on the screen…”Jon Mayfield
Listening to the interview it’s clear that Jon is a gifted and experienced game developer. But he was also admittedly pessimistic in his vision of Zwift’s potential, hedging his bets when it came time to quit his job and go all-in as Zwift’s lead developer.
“I never actually wanted us to get this big. I just wanted to build something cool for people that like bikes.”Jon Mayfield
Jon also explains that he was an introverted cyclist who preferred riding alone, which may explain why things like clubs and events weren’t baked into the game from the start.
“I never got into the group rides. As odd as it seems, I’m an anti-social cyclist. What I like is my solitude.”Jon Mayfield
The interview also digs into what happened within Zwift in the first half of 2020 – a crazy time for the company and the world at large. This includes letting go of some senior execs in the company, Jon transitioning out of his leadership position on the development team, and a pivot toward Zwift developing their own hardware.
The hardware side has proved to be a challenge, at least partly due to supply chain problems from Covid. Eric discusses this, and explains why Zwift sees hardware as vital to their business:
“It’s not to take business away from our partners, I just don’t think they’ll make enough. That’s the problem. We’re just trying to grow the pie.”Eric Min
It’s the story of an unlikely partnership, but one that has changed cycling forever. I think you’ll enjoy listening.
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