Video: Specialized's Farewell to Kate Courtney

Dec 31, 2018
by I Am Specialized  

Time flies when you’re having fun and the last 5 years with Kate have been no exception.


MENTIONS: @Specialized



124 Comments

  • + 74
 How could spez executives let go of a young world champion?
  • + 17
 It seems like they’d give her a blank check
  • + 16
 I would assume that it was already agreed upon before the final race of the year.
  • + 47
 Why do you assume that it was Specialized that lost her and not Kate wanting to do something new and different after 8 years?
  • + 40
 @ka-brap: More money is a powerful influencer. You can ea$ily go from wanting to "try something new" to "they're like family". All it takes is another zero or two to go from one to the other.
  • + 13
 @Boardlife69: Agree. Kate Courtney could be a Gwin, Rachel, Bruni, LeBron and Sharapova all rolled into one. A marketing manager's pipe dream. Seems weird to not secure her to a more long term deal even if she didn't win world champs.
  • + 14
 It was decided before the World Championships. Big mistake from Specialized to let her go...
  • + 8
 Neff had already signed for Trek so Scott had little option but to sign Courtney.
  • + 3
 @ka-brap: Servus, no worries Valentina Höll will be joining Specialized sooner or later Wink
  • - 3
 Same reason as why Barcelona let Neymar go... Smile $$$
  • + 0
 She become too expensive.
  • + 9
 @shaborider: Neymar sucks!!
  • - 74
flag grantschooling (Dec 31, 2018 at 17:43) (Below Threshold)
 personally i would like to see her ride me
  • + 6
 Yep. The American company was not too smart to let go of a rare US world champion.
  • + 4
 Maybe spesh have rissveds incoming ?
  • + 2
 @enduroFactory: that would be interesting.
  • + 1
 @martin737: I hope not.
  • + 1
 @JDFF: no word on her team but by her insta post looks like her return is coming
  • + 0
 come on spec..pay her!
  • + 1
 Spesh doesnt have eyes... shes a beauty world champion
  • + 29
 I think the beans were already spilled on her moving to Scott a few months ago but who knows. Gotta go where the money is. Would hate to have to put that Stanford degree to use.
  • + 2
 hhahah
  • + 6
 She will get a more applicable education from Nino Schuter if she moves to Scott. Learning from the best.
  • + 26
 Fast Life just got a bit less interesting
  • - 21
flag PinkyScar (Dec 31, 2018 at 8:27) (Below Threshold)
 Was it ever?
  • + 6
 I’m guessing this is why Bruni mentioned in the last one that he was coming back...
  • + 16
 So weird that Specialized develops riders then lets them walk. Fools. She is a marketing goldmine.
  • + 9
 Video unavailable Watch this video on YouTube. Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner.
  • + 8
 pUSHED TO yOUTUBE FOR VIDEO PLAYBACK IN uk, CLASSY...
  • + 1
 As in Holland
  • + 2
 @Bahlman: as in Canada
  • + 1
 @pedaler: As in the US
  • + 2
 @pedaler: as in USA
  • + 1
 As at Perú
  • + 18
 Warranty is void if viewed inside the PB window.
  • + 4
 Large European outside sponsor backed team, here we come. Not like US corporations are throwing a dime at US cyclists. Specialized can throw bike frames at her all they want, but a European corporation can actually pay her a salary and give her so much more.
  • + 6
 Umm isnt Spesh bigger than Scott? I do believe so. And even though Scott bikes is hased out of Switzerland it also belongs to Scott USA or am I wrong?
  • + 3
 @Boardlife69: Scott do the skis and such too, no? Scott USA was just a marketing name they used wasn't it?
  • + 5
 @Boardlife69: doesn't matter how big a bike company is. Bike companies are tiny and have rider budgets sprinkled across all formats of cycling. They're tiny financially.

CORPORATION refers to a company that is not a BICYCLE MANUFACTURER.
  • + 4
 P@bizutch: quick search
“specialized bike co Estimated Annual Revenue $490 million with 600 employees “
  • + 13
 Here's the thing -- Specialized is a big brand with an established name. How much do they really need Kate Courtney to sell bikes? That's the question. I'm sure they'd be willing to pay up to a certain point, but at what point is her name/world title of value to the brand? Someone mentioned they have an estimated annual revenue of $490 million with Kate on the team. My guess is they are still a $490 million brand without her, give or take a few grand.

I know that sounds harsh, and I'm not trying to diminish Kate, her abilities or her accomplishments. But she might be more valuable to a smaller team in the same way Gwin was to YT. And they will be willing to pay her more money, so that's a good thing for her. That might have even been what happened -- someone offered her a good deal of money, Specialized couldn't/wouldn't match. I don't think this is a zero-sum game where Kate lost and Specialized won. Both sides probably came out of this pretty nicely.
  • + 3
 @MX298: They're a bike company. $490 mill & 600 employees? 1 factory in 1 town employs more people than that. Do you understand what I'm saying? That if a company like Lotto or Fiat or any "BRAND" not in the bicycle world can help a bike company with funding, they're going to far out-fund a direct factory team from JUST A BIKE COMPANY.

Fiat...$111 BILLION revenue in 2017. Oooh...I posted a meaningless number I randomly googled online that means nothing.
  • - 2
 @bizutch: wow . . . . Just pointing out that specialized/giant . . . etc are not that small. Sure I could randomly goggle big oil and fiat (fix it again tony) is small potatoes! And big R I think it does matter who the world champion rides for! ! !
  • + 3
 @Boardlife69: "And even though Scott bikes is hased out of Switzerland it also belongs to Scott USA or am I wrong?"

No, although it began in America there was a management buyout of Scott by its European branch way back in (I think) the early '90s. It has been a Swiss company ever since.
  • - 1
 @bizutch: "Do you understand what I'm saying? That if a company like Lotto or Fiat or any "BRAND" not in the bicycle world can help a bike company with funding, they're going to far out-fund a direct factory team from JUST A BIKE COMPANY."

Dude, do you understand what you're saying? Fiat don't sponsor the Scott-SRAM XCO team. Lotto don't sponsor the Scott-SRAM XCO team. Guess who does? Yeah, that's right, two bike companies - Scott and SRAM. You seem to think the word 'corporation' imbues an organisation with magical money powers. Just because Scott sells products for sports other than cycling doesn't automatically give them a bottomless pit of sponsorship money that Specialized can't match. Spesh are still bigger than they are, and Spesh's bike business is still significantly bigger than they are.
  • + 0
 @TheR: But why are Specialized such a big brand with an established name? Their MO, more than any other company in cycling, is massive amounts of sponsorship of highest level teams and athletes. And that's an ongoing process - marketing is very much a 'what have you done for me lately?' business.

In the same way as they're not going to say on the road 'well the new Venge is a great success, we don't need to sponsor Quickstep anymore' on the MTB side they're not going to be thinking 'great! loads of people are buying the Epic, we don't need any decent XCO riders anymore'.
  • + 1
 @MX298: Revenue is usually before expenses are deducted so if that is true their actual profit will be a fraction of that number if there is any profit at all.
  • + 2
 @wingguy: They didn’t get to be one of the biggest bike brands in the world by sponsoring people. They got there by building quality bikes people want to ride. The sponsorships of riders follow and add to the brand. It is a feather in the cap to say they sponsor a world champ and that a world championship won on their bikes. And of course they want to keep World champions on their bikes, but only to a certain point before it’s no longer worth the investment. They are not going to pay anyone more than they bring in. They probably have someone who does the calculations — figure out the value each rider brings to the brand. If they feel someone is asking for more than the bikes that rider’s name is going to sell, or if someone offers a rider more than that somewhere else, then they’re going to part ways.
  • + 2
 @wingguy: looks to me like Scott has irons in MANY fires as a company. Bikes, bike accessories, winter equipment(Ski and snowboard), motorsports gear, and sportswear. *Subsidiaries: SCOTT USA Inc., Syncros Inc., Reima Motorsports, Bergamont Fahrrad Vertrieb GmbH. Not a bottomless pit but seems like it would be much deeper than Specialized (just a bike company)

www.scott-sports.com/us/en
  • - 2
 @jonnymoto: That doesn't follow at all. First, the number of things a company sells has no relation to how many of those things a company sells. Specialized sell significantly more bikes, bike parts and bike accessories than Scott, to the tune of a few hundred million bucks. That's a huge gap for Scott to make up, and the fact that it works in other sectors certainly doesn't guarantee that it can. For instance you list their Syncros sub-brand, does that make as much as Roval does? Nope.

Second, the athlete's value still comes from their effect on the relevent sector of the business. Even if Scott was backed by someone like Fiat, they're not going to pay massively over the odds for someone whose marketing value is almost entirely limited to bikes.
  • + 3
 @TheR: But why do people want to buy their bikes?

Remember in the '90s when Specialized was days from bankruptcy? No-one wanted to buy their bikes anymore because they'd tried selling cheaper versions in Walmart (or some other supermarket). Image is incredibly important and Specialized have built their image on having pro riders winning on their bikes.

Or for an outside example look at Nike and Tiger Woods. Before they sponsored him Nike sold a few thousand pairs of golf socks a year. With him, they built an empire that shifted billions of dollars of equipment across the entire range of the sport. After he crashed and burned they actually stopped making golf clubs again. That's what sponsorship can do.
  • + 1
 @TheR: Kind of agree and disagree with you at the same time. Yes, Specialized market share will not depend on Kate Courtney but on the other hand, she’s the perfect ‘poster child’ of the company, pretty much a marketing dream. Interestingly, they still keep Kulhavy and I don’t know how many bikes he’s ‘selling’.
I know, the decision was made before the world championships and they might have done things differently afterwards but it’s also possible that more personal reasons like the team structure, management etc. was more decisive than money. Maybe Scott team has more ‘family vibe’ compared to Specialized’s ‘corporate mindset’ and without judgment someone prefers one over the other.
Anyways, great move from Scott snatching her, she’s a rising star with bright future ahead.
  • + 1
 @bikeinbih and @wingguy: I still think a quality product has to come first, then yeah the image follows if you can sponsor someone good. I've never bought a Specialized bike based on who rides for them. I never really followed the sport in terms of races and contests until the last couple years. I bought a Rockhopper in the 90s, a Stumpjumper in 2002, then an Enduro in 2010 -- my bikes have been Specialized for 20 years, basically, and I bought none of them based on the knowledge of who rode for them. I bought them because they were solid bikes with a good reputation that could be had at a very competitive price point. Now it could be that that reputation was built because of their riders unbeknownst to me, but I'm thinking there's more to it than that.

The Nike example with Tiger Woods kind of proves my point -- Tiger would not have gone to a company that was incapable of giving him a competitive advantage. He's not going to handicap himself at a level where he needs every advantage. He was able to sell a ton of product for them, thus worth every penny they paid him. If he couldn't have created that empire for Nike, or generated more than they paid him, he would have been dropped. We're also talking Tiger Woods here. His Q Factor (basically where he ranks in terms of fame and marketability) in his prime was second in the world among athletes behind Michael Jordan. And Nike wasn't exactly an unknown entity -- it might not have been big in golf, but it was also the biggest sporting brand in the world at the time.

I don't know why Specialized is keeping Kulhavy. I don't know who he is, so I'm guessing he doesn't influence many people to buy many bikes. But maybe they're not paying him much. I can guarantee you they're not paying him more than the sum he brings to the team as a whole and the sales. Maybe Kate wanted more, and someone was willing to pay it. And yeah, there were likely other factors involved -- she liked the team vibe elsewhere, just wanted to switch it up. I don't know.

I do know you're right -- she is a marketing dream. Whoever lands her will get a heck of a rider who can move bikes.
  • + 4
 @TheR: Mate, he won the London Olympics and took silver in Rio. He's been XCO World champion, World Cup champion, XCM World champion and won the Cape Epic three times. Anyone who's followed XC racing for more than a season knows who Kulhavy is!
  • + 2
 @wingguy: Again, my point is made. Like I said, I don’t know who many of these people are. I don’t follow XC racing. I know who Schurter is, I know Kate Courtney, a couple other people... They basically have 0 bearing in which bike I choose. I’m guessing I’m far from the only one.
  • + 2
 @TheR: Do you ever buy high level XC bikes? If not, what's your point? I'm guessing you couldn't name many members of the Quickstep or BORA Pro-Tour road teams either, but that doesn't mean they aren't hugely important to a huge market sector for Specialized, despite the fact that you personally don't care about that sector.

Secondly, that fact that you are (supposedly) not at all swayed by pro-sponsorships does not mean that pro-sponsorship doesn't work. There are a whole spectrum of people out there from oblivious, through mildly influenced, heavily influence, to 'will buy literally anything that's just been ridden to a set of Rainbow Stripes'. If marketing people ignore all the people the other side of that curve because there also exist many people like you who don't care about any of it, then they will sell many fewer bikes.
  • + 3
 @wingguy: I don’t buy XC bikes at all. My points are (and I’m repeating myself):

1. Bike companies like Specialized don’t build their empires in sponsoring people. They build them on quality products first. The sponsorships come next.

2. Yes, I agree with you that sponsorship has value. Otherwise, no company would sponsor anyone.

3. A company will only sponsor someone to a point. If that person is not bringing in more value than what they’re being paid, the company will no longer sponsor that person.

4. I do not know what the circumstances are around Kate Courtney are. Maybe she asked for more than Specialized thought she was worth. Maybe another company made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Maybe she likes blue and orange bikes. The bottom line is, she and another company found a mutually beneficial arrangement that’s better for everyone involved. The new company might reap untold millions off the new deal. So might Kate. And Specialized will likely continue to be a $490 Million company.

Why is this so hard or contentious? I think we essentially agree, except for which came first the chicken (decent company) or the egg (sponsorships).
  • + 2
 @TheR: OK, if you don't buy any XC bikes, you're not even a primiary target of Xc sponsorship So why does it matter that you haven't heard of Kulhavy, and why does it mean that he won't be paid very much?

Look, I think this is hard because I'm going on what you said originally - that the value of Courtney's sponsorship was a only few grand.

There's a great interview on ridemedia with Baden Cooke about the sponsorship of AG2R by Factor bikes (new, absolutely tiny road brand) "After Romain was third in last year’s Tour de France,” Cooke says, “the next month sales went up 500 percent and basically they haven’t dropped off since – they’ve only gotten stronger. "
  • + 1
 @wingguy: I never said Kate was worth a few thousand dollars. I said whether she was on Specialized or not, they were probably worth the same amount of money as a company give or take a few thousand. “A few thousand dollars” just being hyperbole, meaning she as an individual is not going to make or break the reputation of this huge company. Would they like to keep her? You bet. But only to a certain point. Is she worth as much to them as she is to a smaller company trying to build its name and reputation? Probably not. So if a smaller company, or — given the rumors about Scott — a company looking to get a better footing in the U.S. can afford her, it’s probably a good move for her and that company. Specialized will likewise move on and offer an opportunity to another rider. They will keep a competitive team. This situation isn’t bad for anyone.

As for what Kate’s worth, I don’t know the exact dollar amount, but my guess is that it would be among the top for female riders on the XC circuit. She deserves it, and I hope she gets it.
  • + 1
 @wingguy: I work at Nike. This is true. They stopped all golf equipment production and now only make apparel. They are bigger in golf apparel than all other brands, but they never made a dent in clubs and balls and bags. They don't like not being #1 in anything, so they gave up to stop losing money.
  • + 1
 @wingguy: actually it does....they reach a MUCH larger and multiple markets. Pretty simple really. Wintersports softgoods margins are waaaayy bigger than bike margins. They have full lines of apparel and softgoods in multiple divisions. Winter sports, Motorsports, Running and cycling. and that's just Scott!!

In winter sports apparel alone they offer -
Helmets
Goggles
Sunglasses
Backpacks & Bags
Probes & Shovels
Skis
Ski Boots
Poles
APPAREL MEN
Jackets
Pants
Insulators
Midlayers
Gloves
Beanies & Accessories
MEN'S COLLECTIONS
Mountain Men
Freeride Men
All Condition Men
Ascent Men
Elevate your Safety
APPAREL WOMEN
Jackets
Pants
Insulators
Midlayers
Gloves
Beanies & Accessories
WOMEN'S COLLECTIONS
Mountain Women
Freeride Women
All Condition Women
Ascent Women
APPAREL JUNIOR
Jackets
Pants
Gloves
Midlayers
Beanies
Casual

Oh right they sell a full line of bikes and accessories as well....
  • + 0
 @jonnymoto: Again, the size of the market is irrelevant if you don't know what their market penetration is. Find me any source that puts Scott in the top 10 winter sports manufacturers. They're not Rossignol. They're not Atomic. They're not Fischer, or Salomon, or Head, or Line. They are a small player in the winter market.

And BTW Rossignol, the biggest ski manufacturer in the world, and owner of 2 bike brands among other ventures - still significantly lower turnover than Specialized, by a few hundred million. How is that possible, that 'just' a bike company could be way bigger than a ski and bike and outdoor equipment company?
  • + 0
 @wingguy: Your still not getting it. Does Specialized own Rossignol?? NO! We are also talking about SOFTGOODS not ski's or bikes. Scott does NOT have to be in the top 10 winter sports manufacturers. Does Rossignol have tour riders or top level MTB riders on their bikes?? HELL NO! nobody even knows they sell bikes ....again BIKES AND SKIS DO NOT HAVE A LARGE MARGIN SOFTGOODS DO!

"BTW Rossignol, the biggest ski manufacturer in the world"
HARD GOODS VS SOFTGOODS PROFIT MARGINS....try to keep up

****Zhehan (1 days ago)
@wingguy: I work at Nike. This is true. They stopped all golf equipment production and now only make apparel. They are bigger in golf apparel than all other brands, but they never made a dent in clubs and balls and bags. They don't like not being #1 in anything, so they gave up to stop losing money.

Key point - they STOPPED making golf equipment and just made apparel! they were smart and dumped hardgoods and went with higher margin soft goods.
  • + 1
 @jonnymoto: "Does Rossignol have tour riders or top level MTB riders on their bikes?? HELL NO!" Umm, actually HELL YES, they do - several times over. They own Look, Time and Felt, in addition to several SOFTGOODS companies that serve snowsport, running and other outdoor markets.

All of that, and they're still not as big as 'just' Specialized. How is it possible? Because the number of brands and products in their portfolio is a completely seperate metric to how many of those things they sell. Just like with Scott - their presence in those other markets does not tell you anything about how much they make from those markets.

Hell, at this point I wouldn't be surprised if you're so clueless that you're talking about retail outlet margin on softgoods and thinking it's the same thing as the brand's own margin.
  • + 2
 @wingguy: hahaha! I will accept defeat. I wanted to see how far this would go. You have had solid responses at everything I threw at you! Well played sir!
  • + 2
 @jonnymoto: Haha that was unexpected! Thanks very much Smile
  • + 1
 @wingguy: has Kate confirmed under oath that Scott didn't leave a dead horse head beside her in bed? No. Case closed. I think we all know those Scott thugs forced her into this agreement. It has nothing to do with Specialized. Kate cares about her family's safety and who can fault her for that?
  • + 2
 @Warburrito: A dead horses head? Real gangsters leave live horses heads. Think about it - an organisation who can do that can do anything.
  • + 1
 @wingguy: that's a really good point. When you put it that way it makes regular mobsters look like chumps.
  • + 3
 She grew up in Kentfield in a house around the corner from the CA governor. Father is the president of Courtney Private Equity.

It can’t be about the $$$. Scott probably offered to form a team around her. Something Specialized can’t do with Annika Langvad.
  • + 2
 She went to a private high school that resembles a resort with a tuition of 60k a year.
  • + 1
 If you're talking about the Courtney Group, that's a different Tom Courtney.
  • + 1
 @bridgermurray: Actually the full tuition is 46k, but what's your point? Assuming it was a financial decision, what does the school she went to as a teenager have to do with career decisions today?

Our daughter goes to private school outside San Francisco. There are wealthy families for sure, but over half the families receive aid.
  • + 5
 Huge mistake to let her go. She might become the face of women’s mountain biking in the USA for a lot of young riders
  • + 1
 Exactly! Poor long game by S
  • + 1
 hmm any guesses on what shes riding next? my first guess would be Scott bikes or the latter of the two; Giant or Trek. eh eh Jolanda Neff just got on the Trek xc racing team, thatd be sick though!
  • + 1
 Wont be Trek as the roster has more or less been announced on the female side. I would say scott is highly likely since they don’t have a quick female racing wc atm
  • + 0
 Is she really going for the money ?she seams to have a good life since her young age ,so maybe she just want to try something new ,or is the specialized folks doing the same routine again,(too good for us ),good luck and good work girl
  • + 15
 This sport doesn’t favor longevity, going after money is one of the wiser things to do
  • + 2
 @kleinblake: im pretty sure with a bio degree from Stanford she's one masters degree away from making serious money...
  • + 4
 Isn't that what we're hearing now??
  • + 2
 So now where? I’m sure she demands a fairly large salary given her World Champs gold, consistent results, young age, marketability, etc.
  • + 7
 Scott? Hoping Copeland is with her, they seem like a good team.
  • + 2
 @blast-off: I hope so too. It may be like John Hall and Aaron Gwin, they might travel together.
  • + 2
 why do we not hear news about her going to another team on PB??? XC now is also exciting...
  • + 6
 Most pro contracts expire today at midnight. I'm sure they'll be at least a few rider/team announcements tomorrow...unless PB is too hungover to post them. Cheers to all ????
  • + 3
 It was in the 'team rumors' article a month or two back... she's going to Scott.
  • + 3
 The kid is going to win Gold in 2020.
  • + 2
 WELCOME to the Scott brand ;-)
  • + 2
 Kate is one amazing rider. I'm always bummed when my heros leave Spesh.
  • + 1
 If specialized followed Pivot's rule of $1 million per 100 bikes sold then they could have afforded her.
  • + 1
 My bet is CANYON or SCOTT. Unless YT decides to do something way out of their comfort zone.
  • + 82
 Like have bikes in stock?
  • + 3
 @bikewriter: everyone who owns a YT managed to find a bike in stock though.... craziness.
  • + 1
 She seems very FOCUSed on 2019.
  • + 1
 They have to pay Gwin, so they have to get rid of all the other riders.
  • + 1
 The real question is, where is Brad going?!
  • + 1
 That was really well done!
  • + 1
 Great rider, nice farewell video. All the armchair stuff is shite.
  • + 2
 Love her
  • + 1
 If she goes Scott then it means Jenny not coming back.
  • - 1
 Rissveds has been out three years now, and if she did somehow make a comeback, she does not have the ability to command the price of a World Champion contract without any recent results - irregardless of whatever team she'd go. There's no reason she could not just sign for lower. Of course having said that, it's also not just salary, it's logistics being the biggest expense to lower salary riders... a salary is only a portion, having all the resources such as airfare, lodging, team mechanic, equipment, masseuses, team vehicles, etc, also determine the size of a team.
  • + 21
 @Jamminator: dont say irregardless
  • + 3
 @allenfstar: I am in agreeance with you on that one.
  • + 1
 Maybe an all American super team would be Intense.
  • + 0
 Jamis. Yes, you read it right.
  • + 0
 Probably YT after leaks of their progressive carbon xc ride coming out
  • + 5
 Please share - I live under a rock
  • + 1
 Well done Kate! Respect!
  • - 2
 Letting Kate and Miranda go to free up funds all but confirms Gwin is returning
  • - 1
 XC Trek dream team with Jolanda and Emily ? =)
  • + 3
 As cool as that would be, I highly doubt that would happen as Trek has already announced the changes to their female team.
  • + 13
 Trek already has a women dream team with jolanda neff, emily batty, ellen nobles and evie richards .... no more needed
  • + 2
 Yeah I doubt that would happen. That was more of a joke Smile
  • - 2
 Kross maybe ?
  • + 2
 no way they can afford her!
  • + 2
 @mh731: but they could afford Yolanda ?
No disrespect to Kate but who would command a higher fee
  • + 2
 @nick1957: Kate is based in the US which adds alot of expenses. Neff was stuck for a team a while back and didnt have options as it was late in the day, so probably signed those couple of years with Kross. As soon as the bigger opportunity (Trek) came along, she left. IMO Wink
  • - 3
 I see her going to either Canyon or Scott both brands are superior for her style of riding and offer her the bike she needs
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.226936
Mobile Version of Website