Last weekend my family and I drove down to Southern California to ride “Bike the Coast” with my brother in Oceanside. It’s a long drive: 10 hours if you drive straight through (California is a big state, and I live near the top). But it was well worth it to spend quality time with family, ride a century along the ocean, and pay a last-minute visit Zwift HQ in Long Beach.
Scott Barger, one of Zwift’s co-founders, generously gave my brother and I a complete tour of the place. (My plans had changed at the last-minute, so just the fact that he made this happen says a lot.) The vast majority of Zwifters aren’t familiar with Scott’s name because he keeps a pretty low profile on social media, but Scott is in charge of the customer experience side of things: so when you get a helpful automated email from Zwift, or the Zwift support team helps you with a tech problem, you have Scott to thank.
Zwift HQ is located on the 19th floor of a large office building located at 301 E. Ocean in Long Beach, CA. It’s a beautiful office space with expansive views of the Pacific and surrounding city. When I arrived I was greeted by office manager Elise Baden, who I have emailed back and forth with several times. The entry area includes a couple full bike racks on the wall, a large TV with Zwift running live, and easy access to the various departments and offices.
Scott came out to meet me, and I also had a quick chat with retired pro (world pursuit champion) Mike McCarthy, VP of Partnerships at Zwift. We proceeded to visit each department, and I’m sorry to say while I met lots of great folks, I can’t remember many names. In hindsight, I should have taken more notes and photos!
We began with Customer Experience where I met Eric Chon and others. This crew handles Zwift’s social media, email blasts, and more.
The Art Department was next, where five different artists were working on drawing new bikes (there are a lot of bikes coming to Zwift), touching up pelicans, and more. It was fascinating to watch them hand-draw the game elements I interact with regularly.
Next I met the two website guys who are responsible for the very nice and every-improving Zwift.com. Then we hit the Game/Physics Group–these are the “math guys” who decide how drafting works, automatic positioning in a pack, etc. Our last department was Tech Support where we said hi to Lindsay Ruppert (who often chimes in on Zwift Riders) and crew.
After the meet and greets we hit Zwift’s gym/test lab which had several Zwift machines, big screens, and a pile of trainers along with a treadmill and Concept2 rower. This is where the Zwift crew gets to ride for workouts and live game testing. Scott also showed us a connected storage room which contained shelf after shelf of nearly every trainer known to man because, as Scott explained, Zwift staff needs to test every trainer to make sure the Zwift experience is as accurate as possible.
Throughout the tour Scott introduced me as “Eric Schlange–the guy who did the map!” and everyone was very friendly and gracious. I even saw a few of my Watopia maps framed and hanging up, which was pretty gratifying.
My only regrets were not getting to meet “Game Master” Jon Mayfield (who wasn’t in) or CEO Eric Min (who lives in London). But I was able to meet so many of the flesh and blood humans who work every day to make our Zwift experience more amazing, and I was impressed with just how many people it takes to make Zwift work. It’s no small undertaking, and this was only a portion of Zwift’s crew (they also have offices in New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.)
I especially enjoyed talking with Scott about Zwift’s story–past, present, and future. There is so much in store for Zwift (as Eric Min’s recent Zwiftcast interview explained) and it was exciting to be at the epicenter of it all.
#RideOn, ZwiftHQ. Keep up the great work!