Crain’s Extra: Peloton’s John Foley opens online carpet store Ernesta

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Foley | Bloomberg

carpets. They cover floors, they are places under which chores are swept, and sometimes they are pulled out from under people’s feet. You are the better half of the Rugrats name.

Carpets are in the news as the founder and former CEO of Peloton Interactive reinvents himself as a carpet retailer. Last week, John Foley introduced himself as CEO of Ernesta, a direct seller of bespoke rugs.

Ernesta’s name, he explained in a letter, was intended as a placeholder, but over time has become “something we can’t part with”. It’s meant to evoke the word “serious,” said Foley, who strives for his rugs to be as “sparing and understated” as a passage from Ernest Hemingway, perhaps one like this one from The sun also rises.

“The Count looked at Brett across the table under the gas lamp. She smoked a cigarette and flicked the ash onto the carpet. She saw me notice. “I’m saying, Jake, I don’t want to ruin your carpets. Can’t you give a guy an ashtray?’”

Carpets and, yes, ashtrays play a part in the story of another Ernesta award winner: Bob Marley, whose middle name was Nesta and whose music sounds better when the floor is covered, Foley noted. Additionally, Marley’s music “changed a genre and made the world brighter.”

“Goals we share,” Foley wrote.

Foley left Peloton’s board of directors in September, after the exercise bike maker posted billions of dollars in losses and its stock lost 90% of its value.

Two Peloton co-founders, Hisao Kushi and Yony Feng, have joined Foley at Ernesta, which is expected to officially launch in Spring 2023. If they do a better job with carpet than Peloton, maybe it will be the red carpet rolled out for them.

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