On a heat night late final spring, friends gathered at a grand, fantastically appointed city home in New York Metropolis’s West Village. All of the makings of an ideal cocktail social gathering have been in place: Champagne and glowing water on supply from sharply dressed waiters; mini lobster rolls and filet medallions as hors d’oeuvres; energetic dialog that spilled from the open kitchen into the dwelling and eating rooms. Because the social gathering wound down, the host, John Foley, ready a nightcap (old-fashioneds) from his top-floor bar, and as a parting present, everybody left with one in all Foley’s favourite books—pristinely wrapped in matte navy paper. Since 2012, Foley has been best-known because the cofounder of Peloton, having served as CEO till February 2022. However that night time, he was publicly moving into his new position as an interiors government. His newest firm, Ernesta, which makes designer-quality custom-cut rugs, had quietly launched in beta.
With Peloton, Foley sought to convey boutique health to your house by way of a flowery stationary bike, and now, his purpose is to raise that residence with a flowery rug. “I simply love areas, and rugs are a vital a part of your house,” Foley tells Self-importance Honest. It’s just a few weeks after the cocktail social gathering, and Ernesta is nearing an official September 2023 debut. We’re again at Foley’s West Village residence, the place, alongside Ernesta senior service provider Katie DeLuca, he’s describing the corporate he’s getting down to construct. “I’ve obtained a rug drawback,” he jokes, including that, through the years, he’s bought many from greater than two dozen manufacturers and located that high quality, pricing, and customer support are sometimes doubtful. “What we’re making an attempt to do at Ernesta—what we’re doing—is bringing a designer-quality curated collection of rugs pretty much as good as exists, we imagine.”
After all, this isn’t the primary time Foley has had lofty enterprise ambitions. And his path to the C-suite was considerably circuitous.
Born in Houston and raised in Key Largo, Florida, Foley studied industrial engineering on the urging of his father, who served in Vietnam and later labored as an airline pilot. In school, he cut up his time between finding out in Atlanta and dealing at a sweet manufacturing plant in Waco, Texas, the place, wearing a hairnet and steel-toe boots, he made Skittles, Starbursts, Snickers, and Twix. “I earned cash six months a 12 months, after which I went to highschool six months a 12 months, so I graduated having paid my manner by means of college and getting two and a half years of labor expertise.” Foley returned to the plant after school and, just a few years later, transferred to Los Angeles for a task making pet food. “In tech, you say ‘you gotta eat the pet food,’ which means you bought to make use of the apps and the software program that you just create,” he says. “We truly ate the pet food; we needed to style it with the intention to guarantee that it was good for the canine. Swear on my life.”
In 1996, Foley’s brother-in-law, John Pleasants, recruited him to hitch Citysearch, a web site composed of metropolis guides highlighting native eating places, lodges, companies, and leisure venues in varied US locations. The corporate IPOed in 1998. “I used to be such a junior man that I didn’t have any actual fairness. So going public feels like an ideal factor, however for me, it meant nothing.” The expertise, nevertheless, did bode nicely with Foley’s engineering background within the eyes of the Harvard Enterprise College admissions workplace. He graduated along with his MBA in 2001. “It was a giant deal for my confidence,” he says. “Many of the youngsters there have been already going locations in life. I used to be just a few facet door man from Key Largo.”
Foley rejoined Citysearch, which, at that time, had been acquired by media mogul Barry Diller. He spent the following few years rising by means of the ranks in shopper web, with positions at Ticketmaster, Evite, and a short stint as president of e-commerce at Barnes & Noble. “Nevertheless it was too little too late.” Amazon was already dominating e-commerce e-book gross sales. Then, in 2012, he based Peloton.
Google Foley’s title, and amongst frequent searches that seem is: What occurred to John Foley Peloton? To summarize a decade-long story marked with extraordinary highs and deeply humbling lows, Foley, a die-hard health fanatic, cofounded Peloton alongside Tom Cortese, Yony Feng, Hisao Kushi, and Graham Stanton, initially elevating near $4M. The model’s stationary bikes and, later, its treadmills aimed to convey the boutique studio health expertise to folks’s properties, full with internet-connected tablets streaming dwell and prerecorded exercises from instructors who’ve since grow to be area of interest celebrities. As the corporate steadily gained a cult following, profitable investments allowed Peloton to open a studio in New York, increase to Canada and the UK, and funnel tens of millions into advertising. The notorious “Peloton spouse” industrial in 2019 didn’t go over nicely with audiences, and being on either side of lawsuits with Flywheel and the Nationwide Music Publishers Affiliation was time-consuming and expensive. However the pandemic was a boon, with gross sales rising by 66% as quarantine relegated exercises to the house. Issues have been good, till they weren’t. Maintaining with the demand proved to be a problem, and amid supply-chain points, injury-related recollects, and margin miscalculations, Foley resigned as CEO in February 2022. Seven months later, he stepped down as government chairman. His internet price, as soon as estimated to be north of $1 billion, reportedly declined by 87%.
“After I began Peloton, I used to be 40; now I’m 52,” Foley says. “It looks like I went up fairly excessive and got here down fairly low. Financially, it’s as if these 12 years didn’t occur, and reputationally, I don’t know whether or not my repute is nice or beleaguered. I prefer to assume it is extra good than beleaguered, however let’s name it impartial.”
So. What did occur to “John Foley Peloton”? The founding father of a white-hot startup who finds themself divorced from the corporate that was their raison d’être for years has grow to be one thing of a cultural trope at this level. And like different such figures, Foley has been desperate to work on a second (or third or fourth) act. Foley discovered his route there on the ground—actually. The concept for Ernesta struck round 5 years in the past, when Peloton was about to start out its peak. “I had a pal who I attempted to promote on beginning this firm,” he says. “I sat with him for weeks and weeks and tried to elucidate what this was, and he happily or sadly couldn’t get his mind round it. After I was transitioning to chairman of Peloton and realizing that there was an opportunity I wasn’t going to have a day job, I began double-clicking myself on this chance and really rapidly obtained tremendous enthusiastic about it.” Whereas fundraising for Peloton was a years-long course of with hundreds of nos, Foley secured a Sequence A funding of $25M after a handful of cellphone calls and conferences with buyers he’d beforehand labored with. The corporate title was coined after two folks Foley grew up admiring: Ernest Hemingway, and Bob Marley, whose center title was Nesta. Ernesta rugs, Foley says, are elevated and understated, like a Hemingway work. Plus: “When extra of your exhausting surfaces are coated with gentle surfaces, music sounds higher. So, Ernesta is form of a nod to inspiring people from the humanities.”
The management staff consists of Peloton alums Feng and Kushi, in addition to chief merchandising officer Rosa Glenn. DeLuca, the senior service provider, briefly labored with Glenn at West Elm. Earlier this 12 months, Ernesta moved into an workplace in New York Metropolis’s Chelsea neighborhood; the operations arm of the enterprise is predicated within the unassuming “carpet capital of the world,” Dalton, Georgia.
“There are in all probability 10 or 12 large provide companions that make rugs and carpets,” Foley says. “So, we’ll sit down with them and they’ll present us a thousand totally different types. The merchandising is, ‘Okay, of those thousand, we’re going to purchase these 20.’” On the day of our interview, 12” x 12” Ernesta samples—all types that made the lower and have been added to the model’s assortment—are completely organized on Foley’s lengthy rectangular eating room desk, the place we’re sitting. Some are plush, some are pet-friendly; none that appear to be they have been in your grandmother’s home within the ’80s. “We prefer to say that our aesthetic is elevated classics with a twist,” DeLuca says. We clock a flax-hued sisal model, which she notes is “extra about texture,” and a leather-accented, hand-loomed wool design that’s “extra about sample.” The vary consists of indoor and out of doors types, and efficiency rugs constructed from artificial fibers. “It has the feel and appear of a viscose or silk,” DeLuca says of the efficiency choices, “but it surely’ll maintain up rather a lot higher than that kind of product. It’s not going to stain and shed the identical manner.”
Buying an Ernesta rug begins with choosing samples that the corporate sends to your house for $5 if you register. (Those that need assistance selecting can share pictures of their house by means of their web site and get ideas from a design specialist.) “We’re making an attempt to construct our enterprise in order that it’s accommodating and cozy and simple,” Foley says. Rugs begin at $250 and might go as much as the low 5 figures. For an extra cost, there’s an choice to buy a rug pad. As with Peloton, Foley is hoping to make Ernesta personable, regardless of it being a digital-first firm.
“When you consider the hooks between Peloton and Ernesta,” he says, “Pre-Peloton, Ally Love would come to your basement and practice you for an hour and a half. Now, Ally Love is on the Peloton display screen and streaming to tens of millions of properties all over the world. Equally, an inside designer would possibly [have] come over and proven you some rug samples. Within the coming months, we’re going to have the design staff on digital camera explaining why you would possibly love this specific cloth, or why this would be the shade of the season.”
On a typical day, Foley wakes up round 6:30 A.M. “I do typically get on the Peloton,” he says, “[and] I’ve been operating rather a lot by the river.” He takes a easy commute two stops on the subway. Evenings are reserved for time along with his spouse, Jill Foley—an lawyer with a background in kids’s companies, who additionally labored as Peloton’s vice chairman of attire—and his two youngsters, a 15-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. Foley serves on the board of his youngsters’ college in Brooklyn, helps his spouse’s advocacy for underserved kids, and is at the moment planning a fundraiser for Manhattan district lawyer Alvin Bragg. The profession aspirations he had previous to his Peloton exit are on maintain.
“I used to be planning to get into politics popping out of Peloton as a result of I had [the] cash and I had a repute,” he says, including that he hopes to in the future serve the nation as his father did. It’s a need that’s heightened through the years, given his experiences dwelling in Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, and New York—all politically polarizing states. “Fairly candidly, I completely battle with the far proper, but in addition in some methods with the far left. I really feel like we want a extra reasonable, unifying voice to assist heal a number of the scenario that is unfolded, and I really feel like I might do this.” For now, although, he’s centered on constructing his new enterprise.
“I really feel a ton of stress for this to achieve success,” Foley says of Ernesta. “I’ve to reprove myself and, one, present that the Peloton success when it was taking place wasn’t luck; and two, show to, I suppose, the world, that I’m a businessman worthy of betting on.”