ZwiftPower Transitioning to Zwift: Part 1

ZwiftPower Transitioning to Zwift: Part 1

The Zwift racing community has been abuzz since last Wednesday (July 15th) when James Hodges, the programmer behind ZwiftPower, posted a message on the ZwiftPower Facebook Group to let people know the service was back up and running… and to wave goodbye.

Live is back online*.

*Server may not be up to the task and crash a few times during busy periods. Time will tell (pending a server transfer).

And with that good news, thanks for all the fish.

(For those who don’t get the reference… “Thanks for all the fish” comes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It’s a way of signaling that you’re leaving just before something blows up.)

At the same time, he posted that he left his job at ZwiftPower.com as “Sole Developer”, and he changed the group’s ZwiftPower logo to a grey, “powered off” version.

A ZwiftPower Primer

If you’re a Zwift racer, you’re familiar with ZwiftPower. It’s where the “real results” of Zwift races live, because it allows race organizers to DQ riders who “cheat” in various ways – for example, those who ride above their category’s allowed w/kg thresholds. ZwiftPower is much more than just a results tool, though – it includes a powerful event search, rankings for individual riders and teams, a dual-recording analysis tool, rider power profiles, and more.

ZwiftPower is the most important third-party tool in the Zwift universe, and James stepping away from the project with no announcement of a successor is big news. (On a personal note, I should mention that I’ve interacted with James numerous times over the years – he’s a strong Zwift A racer, a programming whiz, and a super-helpful guy when it come to answering my questions or constantly making site upgrades inspired by the community’s suggestions.)

Glen Knight is the other principal behind ZwiftPower. It was he and James who collaborated to develop ZwiftPower years ago, when the KISS racing series (which Glen spearheaded) spun up, and better race management tools were needed. Glen has been more of the infrastructure guy (servers, etc) and also helped with setting up events through the site, while James has been the programmer. Both have poured countless hours into the site.

Zwift’s Statement

With rumors flying around that Zwift had taken over ZwiftPower in a way that left Glen and James rather nonplussed, I reached out to get Zwift HQ’s perspective. Here’s what Zwift told me (I’ve broken their statement up into sections, with my comments in between):

Zwift has been providing financial support to ZwiftPower for some time, as part of our commitment to investing in tools that support community racing on the platform. Created as a not-for-profit tool by James Hodges and Glen Knight, ZwiftPower has helped to empower our community to pioneer new event formats and racing on the platform.

It’s worth noting here that Zwift has been a financial supporter of key community projects for years. Zwift Community Live, ZwiftCast, and ZwiftInsider also receive financial support from Zwift, and have done so since early days.

With significant support from Dave Ranson, James and Glen have continued to work on ZwiftPower to this date, helping with the transition over to Zwift.  During the last 2 months, we have been preparing to migrate ZwiftPower to our own AWS servers to help provide more product stability, especially for larger events such as the Virtual L’Etape du Tour de France taking place now. We expect to cutover to these new servers during the next month.

Migrating ZwiftPower over to their AWS servers in order to provide more stability for large events makes sense – AWS servers make it easy to scale server resources to keep up with demand.

A fun little bit of Zwift history: Glen Knight was originally running the ZwiftPower servers out of his garage. It consisted of many computers, and the overall monthly cost of hardware, bandwidth, and power was quite significant. I believe it was when these costs got high enough that an agreement was reached for Zwift to fund the infrastructure of the site, which was a good thing!

Crucially, moving ZwiftPower under Zwift’s ownership and into Zwift’s cloud setup also allows for a much more simplified view of GDPR and related privacy issues, since personal data isn’t being shipped out to a third party.

The future vision is to create a more seamless experience between ZwiftPower and Zwift as we continue our focus on becoming the definitive racing experience for cyclists around the world. This includes a focus on the connection of the Zwift and ZwiftPower accounts as well as supporting teams, leagues, and categorization with the framework that James and Glen have worked so hard to build and maintain for the community.

This vision for the future is a welcome one. Zwifters are quite unanimous in stating that the Zwift racing experience should be more seamless. After all, running results through a third-party website wasn’t the ideal solution, it was simply the only workable solution when it was created. Essentially, the community stepped up to develop racing tools when Zwift was unwilling/unable to do so.

If Zwift could smoothly fold essential ZwiftPower functionality into its own website and the Companion app, that would be a huge step forward. Along the way, the hassles of creating a separate account and opting into third-party sharing would also go away, making it so every Zwifter has access to ZwiftPower’s core features, baked into Zwift’s products.

This is the hope, at least. But there are two very clear concerns from the racing community:

  1. Will Zwift be able to manage ZwiftPower moving forward?
    This is the immediate question. With James and Glen out of the picture, what happens if the site goes down? What level of support can racers expect?

    Stepping back, it’s important to acknowledge that managing ZwiftPower is more than just making sure the server doesn’t crash. It’s supporting event organizers who have questions, riders who need support, fixing site bugs, etc. With over 200k registered users, simply managing the site day-to-day is a significant job.
  2. Will Zwift dedicate the necessary resources to transition ZwiftPower’s functionality into Zwift’s products?
    Assuming Zwift is able to manage ZwiftPower effectively – the next step is making the major changes necessary to transition the site so it’s integrated into Zwift’s suite of services.

    Preserving essential functionality while opening up ZwiftPower’s powerful tools to the entire Zwift community is no small thing – it’s going to take a clear vision, a dedicated team, and lots of testing. The community is understandably dubious about the prospects of this happening any time soon, given Zwift’s self-confessed history of rather slow development on key projects.

Though Zwift has taken ownership of Zwift Power, it will always remain a legacy of James and Glen. For that Zwift and the Zwift community will always be grateful.

Zwift concludes with a clear statement, in case there was any confusion: Zwift has taken ownership of ZwiftPower. They also include a well-deserved note of thanks to James and Glen, and I would echo the same.

Key Assets

While James and Glen are staying quiet about it, reading between the lines it’s clear this transition to Zwift hasn’t been a smooth one. That said, James and Glen did sign a contract with Zwift in October 2018 which assigned all ZwiftPower-related intellectual property to Zwift. Since that time, they have been paid an undisclosed amount to maintain the site and improve the scalability/security/reliability in keeping with GDPR and other standards.

The contract did not include specifics about transitioning ZwiftPower over to Zwift’s servers and team, and this is probably what led to some confusion and perhaps hurt feelings for some parties involved.

My opinion: it seems a shame that James and Glen aren’t being kept on the team to continue helping with ZwiftPower in some capacity. At this point in time, I don’t know where James and Glen stand when it comes to further involvement with ZwiftPower. But even as very part-time subcontractor consultants, their vast experience with ZwiftPower’s architecture and the overall structure of Zwift racing as we know it would seem to be an extremely valuable asset.

Up Next

As Zwift racers, we all want continued access to ZwiftPower’s functionality – it provides many core features which make racing on Zwift really “work.” And we certainly see the value in integrating those features into Zwift’s overall web, game, and Companion products.

I’m in touch with Zwift and we’re talking through their plans to support/manage ZwiftPower moving forward, as well as how they’re going to be transitioning it into Zwift’s overall product. So watch for another post in the next week or two with more on this topic!

I’ve also reached out to James and Glen to get their perspectives, so we may hear more from them as well.

Questions or Comments?

Share Below!


About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Capski Buttinski
Capski Buttinski
9 months ago

Many sincere thanks to James and Glen

Dennis Zimmermann
Dennis Zimmermann
9 months ago

Good luck and a big “Thank you” to the guys!
Hope they will have a bright future!

Matthew Keffer
Matthew Keffer
9 months ago

When ZP was down due to privacy reasons for months I quit racing on Zwift, cause if it’s not on ZP did it really happen?

Jon S
Jon S
9 months ago

First of all, huge thanks must go to James and Glen for everything they have achieved to date. Whatever they’re heading off to do I’m sure it will prove a huge success. With regard to ZwiftPower in the future, we have to hope that the powers at Zwift don’t try to mess with things too much just because they feel they should. If it ain’t broke and all that. The beauty of ZwiftPower, as Eric pointed out in the article, is that it allows automated and manual adjustment of results to spin out those ZP heroes that mess around with… Read more »

@ Wazza.P.TBR
@ Wazza.P.TBR
9 months ago

Big thanks to James Hodges and Glen Knight. I doubt that Zwift would have become as popular as it is now without their work to support races in those first years.

TravisD
TravisD
9 months ago

James and Glen bootstrapped a timely solution to fill a void for Zwifters. They made the first and only steps to legitimize Zwift racing. I hope Zwift treated them fairly for the contribution they have made to grow Zwift. I’m a pretty positive person but don’t see good things in our future for Zwift racing. Zwift acquires a likely hand crafted, lightly documented, large codebase and will try to fold this into their poorly architected existing solutions. Unless they have been secretly building a data platform supporting event creation, league management, Zwift power threshold enforcement and pre/post event search (kept… Read more »

Terry S
Terry S
9 months ago
Reply to  TravisD

I completely agree with this. I believe one of the biggest issues Zwift have is that the platform’s need have outgrown the skill set of the Co-founder and Head of Product. And not just recently either, the monumental time it takes to bring new “features” or content to market, the abysmal UX, and the bugs in updates all point to this. This is not a cycling simulator running in someone’s bedroom anymore….

Oned
Oned
9 months ago
Reply to  Terry S

Totally agree with these. Zwift is poorly architectured and don’t have a good development team, their inability to fullfil simple feature request as simple as Save and Return to Main Menu without existing the game is one of the proof.

The move of ZwiftPower to Zwift without James and Glenn really worries me about the successful integration of ZwiftPower to Zwift. It surely much more complex than simple feature as stated as above.

If the ZwiftPower not working as it should, I don’t see a point to race seriously on Zwift any longer

Jerome
Jerome
9 months ago

If the guys ever read this thanks a lot for your input, ZP is pretty much the key to the machine that is racing on Zwift. Without it i would have been far less motivated to get on my bike and push myself in every race over the last few years.

JonD
JonD
9 months ago

I’d like to echo the thanks to Glenn and James. You build ZP at a time when Zwift said racing wasn’t a part of its vision, showed the demand was there and now it’s become the core of the plan … I really hope Zwift doesn’t become the corporate machine it’s looking like. It needs to return to focus on the community that enabled it to grow and not squash or ignore it. Pro racing is great marketing, but we’re the paying customers, Eric, Simon, Glenn and James are the catalysts that built the community … I hope they remember… Read more »

Stefano Porcelli
Stefano Porcelli
9 months ago
Reply to  JonD

Absolutely agree, and I am conviced that their work has played a crucial role in subscribing Zwift instead other softwares for many of us. Fingers crossed for this migration – a good thing in theory – but without them I’m quite concerned on the results

Ricardo Camacho
Ricardo Camacho
9 months ago

I really hope James and Glen can still reach an agreement with Zwift to continue contributing to the fairness of Zwift racing. IMO they not only deserve our gratitude but a fair compensation for their efforts!

Patrick Tan
Patrick Tan (@cyclistsg)
9 months ago

Many thanks to James and Glen for keeping Zwift credible and equitable. All the best ahead where your journeys may take you

ZoomZoom
ZoomZoom
9 months ago

The cheaters (aka sandbaggers) will love this takeover. Zwift has shown that they are not that keen to crack down on the event cheating. They still post results on Companion app category event winners who have far exceeded the w/kg. These fine folks don’t get on ZP now, but I have a hard time thinking that Zwift is going continue the existing approach. And I’m sure they will do away with bumping riders up to the next category who have exceed the w/kg for multiple events. Or they will have a way for these riders to get back into the… Read more »

ThT
ThT
9 months ago

If the job is paid, it is not community based. Zwiftpower. Zwiftinsider, Zwiftcast – kind of hidden marketing by Zwift.

Simon
Simon (@sschofield)
9 months ago
Reply to  ThT

Hi Tht. Simon from the Zwiftcast here. At my insistence the contract I have with Zwift guarantees editorial independence. In effect, as I say at the end of each episode, that means I decide what goes into the Zwiftcast, not Zwift. Of course there is a marketing g benefit to Zwift from a podcast but it is absolutely not a corporate mouthpiece, as regular listeners will know.

Curtis Repen
Curtis Repen (@crepen)
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon

I don’t listen to Zwiftcast (I’m not really a podcast guy), but Eric has confirmed that ZwiftInsider gets financial support from Zwift as well, and it should be abundantly clear to anyone who reads this site that he isn’t exactly muzzled either. For a corporation to support such affiliates without iron-clad control over how they are represented in it indicates an openness on Zwift’s part that should be applauded. They may do some things wrong, but financially supporting independent contributors is a good call on their part.

Kwen
Kwen
9 months ago
Reply to  Curtis Repen

However good the intentions may be, anyone financially supported is not independent, by definition.

Jeff Bloom
Jeff Bloom
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon

You are semi independent. If you made a podcast raving about Zwift’s rivals and then harshly criticizing Zwift, I doubt they would continue to fund you. Mild criticism is probably OK, but that is about it.

Craig
Craig
9 months ago

Many, many thanks to James and Glen, They are a tough act to follow and I only hope that Zwift has the capabilities to do so…I must admit that so far I haven’t been impressed. So Zwift, this is your big opportunity to put some of the windfall revenues that you have received during the lock-down back into the Community!

Jerrads
Jerrads
9 months ago

Don’t you love the feel of moisture when Zwift officials make an announcement in ZwiftInsider, skipping Zwift forums/Zwift site?

Paul Himes
Paul Himes
9 months ago
Reply to  Jerrads

I honestly can’t say I’ve been on Zwift forums in probably a year. Here or reddit or bikeforums or zwifthacks or zwiftpower, but it’s been forever since I’ve been there for information. So long, in fact, that I though that one nice thing about them taking over Zwiftpower was that they’d have forums to go for help. That’s how infrequently I think of the Zwift forums, and that’s a problem for Zwift.

Cameron
Cameron
9 months ago

Glen, James. Thank you.

Paul Thomas
9 months ago

If you stand back from all of this just for a moment, you will realise that the contribution of James and Glen was massive for the retention of hardcore, year-round users of Zwift. I would debate whether Zwift would have been as successful without them?

BRB
BRB
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul Thomas

Yes, I agree. And as someone said above, I do hope James and Glen were treated fairly for the massive contribution they made. There’s certainly a lot of appreciation for your hard work from the community. A big thank you from me.

Khaled Mardam Bey
9 months ago

if zp goes away ill move on to another platform. zp is the only thing that keeps me to using zwift despite all its flaws and neglect. if zwift does not do anything to curve the cheaters and continue with their “everyone is welcome because thats more revenue for us” mentality, that zwiftpower worked as a conterweight towards, then it will be the end of serious racing on the platform.

Anders
Anders
9 months ago

This could potentially be the worst news ever in the Zwift community….. On the other hand, it might be good news… Zwift is about big business now, and who will they target in the future – the masses or those who want “the real and genuine race results”? I’m afraid that in the future, in the majority of the races, in will no longer be mandatory to use HRM, dual recording, and so on…. I’m afraid that they will slack on the race-rules, to give more space to “the occasional users”. Making it “hassle-free” to join Zwift and race your… Read more »

Griff
Griff
9 months ago

Zwift really does need to do something about the weight dopers and the moped-on-turbos cheats. It’s getting rather tedious now. If they do take on the functionality of Zwift Power, then they need make sure the same quality of results is maintained and all the ‘noise’ is filtered out as P has been doing such a good job of

MHolden
MHolden (@holdenadventures)
9 months ago

1st, ZP is fantastic and I really appreciate all the work that Glen and James have done!
2nd, Zwift’s go this 🙂
3rd, on a kidding-not-kidding note…If all Zwifters are in ZP, it’s going to be disappointing when I cross the line in 29th place and actually get 29th. Always a pleasure to see the “official” results and get 15th 😀

Paul Himes
Paul Himes
9 months ago
Reply to  MHolden

I’ve noticed that too, but have a hard time feeling accomplished when I podium on Zwift Power knowing I saw 10 people finish before me in real time. Sure some of them might be cheats, but the other folks that just didn’t bother to register, I want a chance to beat them for real. On the other hand, those podiums do look pretty.

Kai Rapp
Kai Rapp
9 months ago

Good words, Eric!!!

Mike landmann
Mike landmann
9 months ago

I think we all knew this was likely to happen anyway, so no great surprises.

As for the future, who knows?

Zwift do need to keep their platform accessible to those who cant afford £500/$600/€600 on a smart trainer, so don’t expect those Sandbaggers to go away.

I suspect they will keep Zwift Power largely as is, a geeky offshoot for those who would otherwise move to RGT or similar.

Flemming Breum
Flemming Breum
9 months ago

Thanks to James and Glen. It must have been a real effort to keep the show running especially here in the massive Zwift/Corona spring.
I hope Zwift will take this challenge serious, Zwiftpower is the only tool hindering sandbagging and other cheats.

Paul Mason
9 months ago

Seems to me that: 1. There is a trust issue in Zwift taking over ZP. This is founded on (a) ZP having an independence and transparency that people feel may not be the case now; and (b) that less time and commitment will be devoted to it than that by James and Glen. 2. It will be a challenge for Zwift to employ the same firm but fair approach of ZP to sandbaggers/cheats etc. They are customers and won’t react to DQs in the same way as they have from ZP. I base that on the distorted sense of entitlement… Read more »

Stephen Murphy
Stephen Murphy
9 months ago

It’s thanks to power users like James, Glen, Eric & Simon (ZwiftCast fame) that spend their time in communication with Zwift keeping us abreast with the latest news & updates & passing on our POSITIVE feedback to help make Zwift a platform we want to use. Thanks for all your hard work, please keep up the great work! Best wishes for James & Glen… ZP ROCKS! Zwift isn’t perfect but it keeps me fit, entertained & on a bike early in the morning & late at night, as I like many others, plan around work & family Most importantly Zwift… Read more »

Tomas Katrnak
Tomas Katrnak
9 months ago

If we know how long it takes to fix the fence, I am not sure about the positivity of these news 😊

Carl Scholtz
Carl Scholtz
9 months ago

Pivotal moments for Zwift. Commercial foundation has been built around cycling. Now they talking rowing, taking over ZP, etc none of which will contribute significantly to revenue streams but will add to the cost base. Won’t be the first startup to lose focus on the core platform and customers. Let’s hope they can make it work. Holding thumbs.

Derek
Derek (@dpr4473)
9 months ago

I don’t like it. Zwift does not have a good history of concerning themselves much with “real results.” All you have to do is look at their unwillingness to do anything about the problem of zPower racers. In my opinion, Zwift taking over the reigns in a bad thing.

Graham Irvine
Graham Irvine
9 months ago

If we took a completely neutral view , it might sound great , solidifying zwift power as a part of zwift and bringing servers into AWS Cloud is for sure an absolute plus . None the less I am a little bit concerned like many must be , and with good reason . Zwift Product team has not exactly been the bastion of engagement and responsiveness to its user base. Neither have they go a track record on delivering things on a user focused way . There is a lot of corporate venture capitalism in play here in the zwift… Read more »

Paul Himes
Paul Himes
9 months ago

I’m just concerned that, with Zwift running Zwiftpower, Zpower users will be featured in the results. Other than the cone of shame being used in a few specific races a few times a day, Zwift hasn’t been too concerned about sandbaggers or blocking Zpower users because they are afraid of damaging their potential subscriber base if they don’t allow everyone to fully participate as they wish.

Robert MacDowell
Robert MacDowell (@rmacdowell1)
9 months ago

Always wish ZP had a donation link! I’d gladly and voluntarily donate, and believe many others would as well.

Christoph
Christoph
9 months ago

Without ZwiftPower Zwift is worth nothing to me. I guess I am going to leave if the project dies at all.

Many thanks to James and Glen! Great work!

Seb
Seb
9 months ago

Zwift without zwiftpower would be real bad for the racing community.

I hope this transition goes well!

Kudos to James and Glen, I mean Ride on!

Peter Van Mol
Peter Van Mol
9 months ago

Thx to James en Glen👍👌

Neil Glezer-Jones
Neil Glezer-Jones (@neil)
9 months ago

Hi Eric, How owns ZwiftHacks? I really like their search filters, but obviously no race results. We really do need these tools available on the App or as part of Zwift main Screen.

Jessica Hamilton
9 months ago

A really bad time to transition to Zwift with new maps released. Segments are missing on ZP for Paris and France. And no official channels for support announced for event coordinators. Any competent team gets your support in place first… do they even have people familiar enough to make these sorts of changes?

Shawn McAfee
Shawn McAfee (@smcafee)
9 months ago

i’m looking forward to part 2 of this article 🙂

Rob
Rob (@robgrootzwaaftink)
8 months ago
Reply to  Shawn McAfee

me too!

Josh
Josh
4 months ago

Was there ever a part 2 to this article?

naan
naan
4 months ago
Reply to  Josh

Sure could use one now, while we wait for week-old race data to be processed… Would be good to know what plans (if any) Zwift has in terms of product development of racing functionalities in general.

Who Cares
Who Cares
4 months ago

Part 2 of this should be theories on why Zwift would/should let ZwiftPower die – as it is gasping for air with 150k file backlog today.

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