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Peloton races to the future, but it’s still no tech company

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I can’t hide my admiration for Peloton.

I don’t own shares in the company, but I do own a bike, which my wife, to her continued amusement, had to persuade me strenuously to buy. And the only time I met CEO John Foley, at a Fortune conference in 2016, I was unimpressed with the fledgling company’s pitch.

But I am a fan in so many ways. I’m a fan of the company’s impressive head instructor and vice-president of fitness programming, Robin Arzon, who I interviewed in June. I’m a fan of the varied, high-quality classes, many of which are available for a lower price than the expensive bike and treadmill and the subscription they require. And I’m just a fan of the whole Peloton experience, in particular because the classes get me to try things I wouldn’t do otherwise. Example: I recently took a beginner’s yoga class with the suave and confidence-instilling Dennis Morton; it’s the first time I’ve felt successful in a yoga class after years of misfires.

Gushing about the product aside, I’ll gush now about the financial performance. Peloton reported its first quarterly profit Thursday. It has more than a million subscribers and an impressively low churn rate. The knocks against Peloton keep getting knocked down. Its for-rich-people equipment is getting a bit cheaper, and the digital app is affordable. The competition is fierce, but the line about how credit-card companies compete against cash comes to mind: Peloton is competing against gyms where people breathe on each other, not other fitness apps.

Peloton isn’t a technology company, of course, any more than NBC is. It too is a broadcaster, and even more like NBC when it was owned by TV-maker RCA: Peloton sells the “TVs” too. It uses technology well, including flat-screen monitors that connect to the Internet and Bluetooth headphones. But its business success revolves around implementing the technology others sell.

***

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Adam Lashinsky

@adamlashinsky

adam.lashinsky@fortune.com

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.

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