Strava is one of the most popular fitness platforms around. With a self reported 95 million Athletes (Strava refers to all their users as Athletes) on the platform they dwarf platforms like Peloton (reported ~6M users). Even popular devices like Fitbit, which depending on who you believe have around 80M registered users, are smaller in size.
This leading position is likely due to their model of not being tied to any particular device or training program. Strava positions themselves as a social media company with a focus on being a “sport community”. As a company Strava publicly announced a funding round in 2020, which valued the company around $1.6B. Since anything is only worth what someone will pay for it, this seems like the best number to go with. That said, once the company does decide to go public, or if they wind up being acquired by a sports or data behemoth (Nike, Apple, Amazon, perhaps others).
For consumers they offer primarily a single offering, the paid tier subscription which runs $5 a month. The total cost of this is small and as we’ll see below and from anecdotes it is unlikely that more than 20% of their users are on this service at any given time. Revenue from this is also likely cut into by all the users who are subscribed through the Apple store, which takes a 30% cut. Some would argue there is trust and simplicity to having the billing for subscriptions linked to a central place, but the 30% cut has been the center point of a number of issues with publishers and Strava must be one of the companies that would be happy to see this % reduced since it serves as a tax on what is presumably a large percentage of their user base.
For municipalities Strava offers access to their aggregated data. This can be helpful in determining how to plan out bike lanes, build walking paths, and making other decisions on planning as well as existing usage. We have not found great information on how much access to Strava data costs, or how many municipalities have pursued access to this information, but it’s safe to assume that the sales cycle for this is much longer than consumer applications. Further there is continually risk that privacy efforts cut into this business, notably back in 2018 Strava hit some tough PR as their heat maps were shown to reveal data about military bases that was thought to be secret. Interestingly Strava also provides data access through their API, but this is currently an open API that does not generate fees.
For advertisers Strava offers native in app sponsored challenges and experiences. Notably the app is absent of other common display and video ads which you see in other social media services. Challenges show up with a number of different sponsors under “Partner Challenges” in the app. With most running for around a month these challenges can collect hundreds of thousands of Athletes. As an advertiser this means guaranteed email delivery of your message into those athletes inbox, with many challenges having simple “10% Off a store purchase” as a reward. This effectively turns Strava into one of the premier affiliate advertisers on the web depending on how they structure their deals, and at the very least ensures they can charge premium advertising rates for this direct engagement with advertisers target customers.
Potential revenue streams for Strava must be on the table, and certainly will be in and when the company goes public. A sample of those that are adjacent to their current business and could produce additional revenues.
Advertising. The current offers are geared toward producing premium advertiser engagements. The self selection where Athletes opt into challenges, effectively ads, ensures this but also leaves a long tail of advertising opportunities. With time spent in the app and news feed at anything above 0 for the average customer there will at times be pressure to unlock banner, display, and video ads into the feed. Any extension of the app into augmented reality will also provide potential for contextual ads while athletes are out training, even now some cyclists have Strava mounted to their handle bars during their rides so the chance for hyper local targeting is strong. This of course will need to be balanced with the impact to the User Experience (UX) and the Strava product managers will be balancing time in app, user satisfaction scores, and engagement numbers closely as expansion into ads could easily cannabilize their other revenues by turning off users. Still, adding additional ads may come in tandem with other revenue potential on their premium tiers.
Subscription Tiers. Having only two pricing tiers for all users (Free and $5/month) means that the segmentation of Strava athletes could be extended. As features are added and things like advanced training plans, coaching, group administration, and more get added to the roadmap the potential to charge for features increases. In addition, if Strava does decide to ad additional advertisements then they set themselves up for the common model of having a premium tier that just removes those ads for a fee. This model is already popular with devices (think Amazon Fire Tablets which allow you to remove lock screen ads, and streaming services like Hulu that offer ad free premium subscriptions). Pricing and features would dictate how much of an upside their is to this, but if we assume that 20% of users are on a subscription already that means they make around $1/customer/month (less fees like apple) and there is large potential that high priced offerings could drive up this metric by a significant percentage.
Experiential. While they do have some minimal advertising we have not seen Strava either sponsoring or organizing any major athletic events. No doubt with their user base they have the brand recognition to compete with providers like Ironman and Tough Mudder to host events, but this is an entirely different business model. Their technology and tracking potential positions them better to be the paid provider for time tracking of events, a potential first step if they do wish to move away from being purely digital into blending the social platform with in person engagements.
Total Users of Strava
There is a simplistic way to view the value of Strava, that is to just assign a value to each user. Reports from the end of 2021 suggest that Strava has 95 million members. While in the past they have advertised adding 2 million new monthly, a reasonable assumption is that they have surpassed the 100 million users mark. To get to a unicorn valuation, that means that each user has to be worth around $10; while their last funding round suggests that they are actually worth around $1.5B so roughly $15/athlete.
In a completely unscientific study of how many Strava users are pro, a personal scan of followers suggest that 50% of them are on Pro. This number is likely very high, since dozens more friends are on the service with a handful of activities or none at all, and who have never wound up in connections. Let’s assume that just looking at followed this overestimates pro users by 5x, that would mean that about 10% of users are pro.
So how much rough revenue does Strava get from pro users? 10%*100M users, that’s 10 million users paying around $60/year, or around $600 million in annual revenue. This doesn’t account for any churn or associated processing fees, so if that number is accurate as potential the net is likely at least 20% less, or estimated around $500M revenue for Strava from subscriptions. This is a pretty good starting number, although in checking it the 10% adoption of premium may be a bit aggressive.
Add in the advertising revenue, which very well might be more than the subscription based on the number 350k+ Athletes who sign up for some of the more popular challenges. All of this to say that is is realistic to assume that Strava’s revenues have the potential to already be well over $1B. Margins on that billion are also likely pretty good since most of the marginal costs of adding a new Athlete are going to be fairly low. More importantly though in the social media game there is often only one major winner in each category. Think about the dominance of Facebook (social), Tiktok (video), and LinkedIn (business) and just consider Strava to be functioning in a different users space (Fitness and athletics). There is no reason that there dominance should stop now.