After the Greg Glassman debacles over the last few weeks, many stakeholders within CrossFit said they would cut ties with HQ unless Greg sold the company.
As someone who bled CrossFit for the past 12 years, I found it both difficult and easy at the same time to announce our repositioning away from CrossFit. I truly believe in the methodology and the power to make people healthier and happier, but just could not be associated with Glassman’s comments and behaviors.
Well, only a couple of weeks later and a deal has been reached for an affiliate owner, Eric Roza, to buy CrossFit for an undisclosed amount (for reference, recent estimates of CrossFit valuation ranged from $100 million to $4 billion). Affiliate owners around the world received the following email from the current CEO, Dave Castro:
Dear Affiliate Owners,
I am pleased to introduce you to Eric Roza, who is purchasing CrossFit from Greg. Once the deal is closed next month, he will be the new owner and CEO of CrossFit, and I am excited to partner with him as we enter this next stage.
Eric is one of us. He’s a 10-year CrossFitt athlete and founder of CrossFit Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado. He opened boxes at his tech company, Datalogix, and at Oracle after it purchased his company. You can see his passion in every line of this New York Times story.
Eric knows what it’s like to run a box through tough times. He has faced the same issues with payroll and rent during COVID-19, and he knows what it’s like to deal with difficult issues in the press. He also knows how to build great, inclusive workplaces, with Datalogix making Outside Magazine’s list of best places to work.
Eric is going to be holding a YouTube Live event at 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET today to introduce himself to CrossFit affiliates. We’d love for you to join if you’re free. (The recording will also be available to watch later on CrossFit’s YouTube channel.)
If you’d like to share any ideas, concerns, or feedback (or just welcome him to the team), you can reach Eric directly at [email protected]. Thank you for your continued leadership.
Roza seems to have an impeccable business reputation. He created and then sold his company, Datalogix, to Oracle and then worked at Oracle for a few years. He seems to have an amazing track record of creating positive cultures while also getting things done business-wise. As successful as he was in the corporate world, it seems like his true passion has been CrossFit for the last 10 years. He started an affiliate in Boulder, CO with his now ex-wife and it seems like they both run CrossFit Sanitas as business partners. He’s also chairman of TrueCoach, an app for trainers to communicate with their clients.
Here are my takeaways from the news so far (about five hours old)
- This is exactly the change many of us wanted and it came fast. Especially because on his personal IG statement, he come right out and says racism and sexism are abhorrent. These are statements that the public was looking for from HQ from the very beginning. Truthfully, I thought Glassman wouldn’t sell at all because I remember when he was going through his divorce and fought tooth and nail to maintain 100% of the company from his ex-wife. I believe he paid her $20 million for full ownership.
- His track record is impressive and hopeful. It seems like he cares a lot about culture which means a shake up at HQ is most likely inevitable. If you check out CrossFit Sanitas’ IG page, they’ve also recently done tribute workouts for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, so those who were concerned about HQ’s lack of empathy and message of support for #BLM should take some comfort in that.
- It seems that Dave Castro is staying on. Since he was so close with Greg, I’m really interested to see what kind of role he takes. He’s currently the CEO, but once the deal happens next month, Roza will assume the role and Castro will be most likely working with him closely. I wonder how much of the old culture will remain because of this.
- I wonder/hope that Nicole Carroll comes back to HQ. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t feel similarly.
- While Roza seems to be a great fit on paper, we still don’t know exactly what actions he’s going to take and what changes we will see. For all we know, he could raise affiliate fees to $25,000! Although he probably wouldn’t do that, we simply don’t know what will play out over the next few years.
- I watched the Youtube Live and he did mention offering other models for affiliates. Right now, affiliates pay $500-5,000 to license the name “CrossFit,” but every location has freedom to run however they want. It seems like he wants to offer different options or even tiers to possibly bridge the gap between total autonomy and a franchise model where everything is given to a franchisee.
- He’s a fan of the Games and the sport of CrossFit, but similar to how USA Triathlons and UFC are setup. He knows that most people will not make it to an elite level, but if those athletes can inspire others to try something and be healthy, he’s all for it. At the same time, one of his favorite moments is when he got his 75-year-old grandmother to do CrossFit, so he’s very much focused on expanding who CrossFit can affect in good ways.
- Roza said that whenever he runs a business, he tries to figure out who the stakeholders are and then do everything he can to produce results based on what they want. In this case, stakeholders are affiliate owners, members, competitors, and even the greater world population who may have been turned off of CrossFit in the past or don’t know about it yet. He now sees his mission as needing to listen to these stakeholders and then make sure CrossFit can benefit them.
Lastly, I’m wondering just how much of the company he bought from Greg and if Greg will be involved at HQ at all. Will he be tasked with continuing the fight against Big Soda and continuing CrossFit Health, or is he completely out?
In terms of our affiliation, we are definitely still changing our outward facing name to Kanna Fitness. If we re-affiliate, it will be more of an internal homage to the methodology than anything else. And yes, we are still committing $3,000 to three local non-profits even if we re-affiliate later.
Those are my thoughts for now. Overall, things are moving in a positive direction in big ways, but time will tell what actual changes are made. Let me know what you think in comments!