Peloton’s New CEO Is Incredibly Candid, & the ‘Micromort’ Estimates Risk of Dying From Any Activity

Two Great Reads on Leadership, and Rational Risk Taking

Two great reads I wanted to share with you — one is about leadership, the other is about risk.

Peloton’s New C.E.O. on the Tough Road Ahead

Interview with Barry McCarthy by NYTimes DealBook

This was one of the most candid interviews by an incoming CEO in a turnaround situation that I’ve ever seen!

Lots of analysts have said that everyone who wants a Peloton already bought one. How big is the TAM, or the total addressable market?

You can’t possibly know what the TAM is. You’re in the middle of inventing the TAM.

On founders and vision, and the challenges of reality

What have you learned from the other founders you’ve worked with?

They see things the rest of us don’t see, which is why they get to be founders.

What went wrong here?

They got caught up in the vision thing at the expense of getting real and dealing with the world as it is. I mean, really, who thought that Covid was going to be the forever thing?

On his relationship with John Foley [Peloton cofounder, Board member and original CEO

How hard will it be leading the company when John and other insiders still have a controlling stake and veto right? You still work for him.

The question is: What best serves his economic interest? At the end of the day, he’s very much an economic animal. And so, if we’re winning in the marketplace with my leadership, I think this is a nonissue. He’s a happy camper. He’s doing what he likes doing. Which is not everything else that I’m doing — and he gets to be the product visionary, right?

And if the company isn’t doing well, I’m getting replaced anyway. So it’s pretty cut and dry. And if I don’t do well — and there’s a change — maybe at that point the business gets sold.

We Need A Standard Unit Of Measure For Risk

Steven Johnson on the ‘micromort,’ an attempt to standardize the expression of fatality risk for a given cause of death.

Sometimes I feel as if we’re increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that there’s always going to be some risk in our lives, and especially some degree of unknown risks in the earliest waves of innovation. I understand that part of this ‘risk backlash’ is that in many historical cases the risks have been disproportionately born by those with the least power in America.

Johnson’s post introduced me to a concept created by a Stanford engineering professor in the 1980s: the micromort. A micromort represents a one-in-a-million chance of death. And here’s an example of how it’s applied in context [via Wikipedia]:

The rational quant side of me does love turning perceived risk into clear comparisons of mortality. It’s a blunt instrument and I’m sure not without its own skeptics, but was a read I recommend.