Name: Robin Thurston
Title: Chairman and CEO
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Downlow: Robin Thurston’s rise has been meteoric. Raised in Denver, he became enamored with Outside magazine when his dad gave him an early issue with a feature on Arches National Park. As a competitive cyclist in the 1980s and ’90s, he raced around the planet, but after a serious crash, he transitioned into a career in finance beforel aunching the MapMyFitness apps, which he sold to Under Armour. From there, he became CEO of Pocket Outdoor Media, which included the titles VeloNews, Triathlete, Women’s Running, and Bicycle Retailer. In June 2020, Pocket acquired Yoga Journal, Ski, Climbing, Backpacker, SNEWS, and other titles from Active Interest Media. In October 2020, it bought Rock and Ice, Ascent, Trail Runner, and Gym Climber. The coup de grace came this February when it acquired Outside, Outside TV, and associated holdings, and rebranded the entire company and over 35 media properties under the umbrella of the Outside brand, claiming 70 million unique users in its sprawling, diverse outdoor enthusiast network.
It’s not just a media company. We want to be able to tell you where to go for a hike or how to find a trail for mountain biking. We want to get you registered for an event.
There’s a saying: “Trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets.” The truth is, we have to earn the market’s trust—we have to build a great product and deliver.
I grew up in the city in Denver. My parents didn’t have any money really. I was so lucky to find cycling. I think these types of opportunities can really change lives.
There are some people on YouTube making millions of dollars a year. Those are the stories that you hear about. But the rest? There’s a long, long tail of people not making a lot of money.
We used to have this funny saying in the app world: “How do you make a small fortune building apps? Start with a large fortune.” My only goal of owning any data is to build a better consumer experience around the active lifestyle. I’m not going to sell it. This is one of the reasons why I want to go public. I don’t want to be in a position where I might have to sell data. I want to go public because I want the ability to think about data from the perspective of building a better product for consumers, not having to do something that they regret down the road when it comes to how that data is used.
I am impatient by nature. I’m never really content. But that’s actually a benefit.
Every city I ever moved to—Kansas City, Boston, New York, Palo Alto, Austin—my groups were cycling groups. Cycling has been the stitching so to speak. It’s where I’ve met everyone. It’s where my network has been from an investment perspective. It’s frankly led to pretty much everything that’s ever happened to me.
MapMyFitness has 65 million users. It’s a huge platform. I always felt fortunate because I saw so many entrepreneurs build great apps that never went anywhere.
There are going to be a lot of opportunities thanks to our size. We will be able to connect with certain age groups, ethnic groups, gender groups. Scale will allow us to do more—but we have to prove that our mission is to bring as many people as possible into these categories.
At the core level, I just want people to be active. If there’s something I want people to remember me by, it’s that I helped the world get active.
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