20VC: Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy on Leadership Lessons Learned from Reed Hastings and Daniel Ek, What is Peloton’s Competitive Advantage and Why Peloton is a Team and Not a Family

Posted on 19th December 2022 by Harry

Barry McCarthy is Peloton’s CEO and President. McCarthy is a seasoned executive who served as CFO of Spotify from 2015 to January 2020, and CFO of Netflix from 1999 to 2010. Prior to Netflix, McCarthy held various leadership positions in management consulting, investment banking, and media and entertainment. McCarthy has served on the boards of directors of Spotify and Instacart since January 2020 and January 2021, respectively. In addition, McCarthy has served as a member of the boards of Chegg, Eventbrite, MSD Acquisition Corp, Pandora, and Rent the Runway. 

In Today’s Episode with Barry McCarthy We Discuss:

1. From Netflix to Spotify to Leading Peloton:

  • How did Barry make his way into the world of startups and come to work with Reed Hastings at Netflix? What are his single biggest takeaways from working with Reid?
  • Why did Barry decide to move to cold Stockholm to work with Daniel Ek and Spotify? What makes Daniel the special leader that he is?
  • Was Barry nervous about assuming the role of CEO @ Peloton? Are the elements he was most worried about the elements that are his biggest challenges today?

2. Barry McCarthy: The Leader

  • What does “high performance” in business mean to Barry?
  • Daniel Ek has described Barry as the “most strategic dealmaker in the world”. What does Barry believe makes him so good at dealmaking? Where do so many go wrong?
  • Barry pioneered the model of the direct listing, why does he believe they are better? Why was it right as an approach for Spotify? Will we continue to see more?
  • What is Barry’s framework for making tough decisions? How has it changed over time?

3. Barry McCarthy: The Master of Boards:

  • Barry has sat on some of the best boards from Netflix to Spotify to now Peloton and Instacart, what does Barry believe makes the best boards?
  • Where do many boards go wrong? Where do they become dysfunctional? What can and should be done to stop that?
  • How does Barry advise other board members on the right way to deliver tough news constructively?
  • What is the single biggest advice Barry would give to young board members assuming their first boards? Where do many young board members go wrong?

4. Barry McCarthy: Mastering the Mechanics:

  • Daniel Ek suggested that I had to ask about “demand creation theory and your ideas about whether the market is efficient”. What did he mean by this? How does Barry think about it?
  • How does Barry think about the interplay between gross margin, experience and retention?
  • Why did Barry decide it was the right decision to evolve the strategy from owning distribution to working with Amazon etc?

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