Peloton’s former CFO takes on a new role at data-driven startup Alation

“It was immediate. It was the first time I actually felt like my life and my work were kind of in harmony with one another.” That’s what Jill Woodworth tells me about becoming a CFO and knowing it was her calling. 

Woodworth’s first role as a finance chief was at the exercise equipment company Peloton Interactive. But in April, she joined the data-driven startup Alation, and the company made the announcement on May 11. In addition to finance, Woodworth is also in charge of IT and legal functions. 

Alation CFO Jill Woodworth.

Courtesy of Alation

“I just want to meet everyone,” she says of her plans for the first few months. “I want to understand what we’re doing well and where there are opportunities to improve.” Woodworth was drawn to the company by its people and a “unique opportunity to learn a new business model and enterprise software.” 

Alation, founded in 2012, completed a $123 million Series E funding round in late 2022, which brought total funding raised to $340 million to date. The up-round elevated the company’s current valuation to more than $1.7 billion. The company is focusing on growing the business and not pursuing an IPO at this time, Woodworth says. In essence, Alation’s software can crawl an organization’s databases in order to build data search catalogs, and automatically index the data by source. It uses machine learning to continually improve human understanding. 

Woodworth compares how the platform works to Yelp, where you can conduct a simple search for a particular restaurant location, read reviews, and see what restaurants are the most popular. “Alation is a platform that allows you to see from a crowd-sourced perspective what data and what queries are being used by the organization,” she explains. “You are able to select from data that’s widely trusted and used by the organization, and you can see that visualization in the tool. Just like Yelp. Kind of like a Google platform.

Companies that use Alation include Pfizer, Salesforce, Robinhood, and Aon. “We’re already servicing over 450 customers across the world—Latin America, APAC, EMEA—and we service 35% of the Fortune 100,” Woodworth says.

Three lessons 

Prior to joining Peloton in 2018, Woodworth worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and as a managing director at J.P. Morgan. She built a global finance team at Peloton to support the company’s growth and led their IPO and several other capital raises. 

At the height of the pandemic, Peloton’s business performance was boosted by skyrocketing demand for at-home workouts, with its stock surging 350% and revenues jumping 172% in a single quarter, Fortune reported. But when this momentum couldn’t be sustained, Peloton suffered a staggering fall. The company’s problems led cofounder and CEO John Foley to step down in February 2022. Foley was replaced by Barry McCarthy, a former CFO at Spotify and Netflix.

Woodworth stepped down from her role in June 2022 and stayed on as an advisor through September. Peloton said in an 8-K filing that her departure “is not the result of any disagreement with the company on any subject, including its operations, policies or practices.” Woodworth tells me she made the decision to move on and seek new opportunities. Her successor, Liz Coddington, a former Amazon Web Services executive, began in June 2022. 

Any learnings from both what went right and what went wrong at Peloton? “A few things,” Woodworth says. “One thing, having managed Peloton through extreme growth, and obviously COVID exacerbated that tremendously, [regarding] wanting to really meet the consumer demand at the time, I really learned in retrospect the importance of balancing that growth while building that back office operational scale to be able to handle that growth. You can’t really have one without the other.” 

She continues, “You need to balance investments in your own technology stack and work with a team to develop scalable operating processes that will enable the company to grow in the future. And if you don’t grow those things together, it makes it a bit challenging.” 

Another lesson—“what I did at Peloton and what I’m doing [at Alation] with amazing talent” is building a finance team that plays a critical role in company-wide decision-making by relying on data and financial analysis to understand where investments should be made, Woodworth says. “What’s working well, what’s not? How to fail fast and course correct.” 

“And, I think it goes without saying, an important lesson is to keep a close eye on cost structure, regardless of where you are in your growth cycle, or what the investor mindset is at any given time,” Woodworth says. “In all economic client climates, I think it’s a responsibility to really make sure we’re managing risk and costs.”

Although she’s no longer with the company, Woodworth enjoys exercising on the equipment in her spare time. “I love everything Peloton,” she says. “The Peloton rower, the treadmill, not so much the bike. That’s my husband’s thing.” 

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

In the asset management sector worldwide this year, through May 2, private equity and venture capital firms announced $5 billion of investments across 43 transactions, S&P Global Market Intelligence finds. “With a strong private equity interest in the sector, it is likely the 2023 full-year aggregates will match private equity investments in asset management in 2021 and 2022,” according to the report. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, the asset management companies pulled in $4.89 billion across 30 deals, the research found.

Courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence

Going deeper

A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that U.S. workers who experienced workplace discrimination correlated with an elevated risk of hypertension. “The adverse impacts of discrimination on cardiovascular disease have major implications for workers’ health and indicate a need for government and employer policy interventions addressing discrimination,” according to the study. The researchers tracked 1,246 workers for about eight years. During that period, they measured instances of workplace discrimination and hypertension.


Nchacha E. Etta was named EVP and CFO at Omnicell, Inc. (Nasdaq: OMCL), a maker of automation systems for hospitals and pharmacies, effective June 1. Etta succeeds Peter J. Kuipers, who, as previously announced, will be stepping down from the role. Kuipers will remain with the company through July 1 for a transition process. Etta has more than 20 years of experience leading global finance organizations. He most recently served as CFO of Essilor of America, Inc., a subsidiary of EssilorLuxottica SA. Before that, Etta served as the Worldwide VP and CFO of Johnson & Johnson Vision. He has also served in several financial roles of increasing responsibility at The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft Corporation, and Eli Lilly and Company.

Steve Weber was promoted to CFO at FICO (NYSE: FICO), an analytics software company. Weber was named interim CFO in January 2023, succeeding Michael McLaughlin. FICO retained a global executive search firm and executed a search before selecting Weber, according to the company. Before taking on the interim CFO role, Weber served as the company’s VP, treasurer, tax and investor relations. At FICO, he has served as head of FP&A, and has led several public bond issuances, managed syndicated bank lending, stewarded due diligence and integration for mergers and acquisitions and guided strategic financial planning.


“My baseline case is we won’t be really thinking about cutting [rates] till well into 2024. In my world, inflation doesn’t come down that quickly and in that regard, cutting rates doesn’t really fit into that scenario.”

—Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic told CNBC’s Squawk Box in an interview Monday.

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