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Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

SoulCycle is in the midst of an intense customer backlash, following reports that real estate billionaire Stephen Ross plans to hold a pricey fundraiser for President Trump.

Why it matters: In short, many prominent SoulCyclers believe Trump is antithetical to the fitness company's values (particularly around LGBTQ rights).

Why Ross: Because he's the owner and chairman of Related Companies, which in 2005 bought Equinox, the fitness chain that later acquired SoulCycle. The result is people threatening to boycott SoulCycle, arguing that their money is being indirectly funneled to Trump.

  • Both Equinox and SoulCycle distanced themselves from Ross and the fundraiser. In its statement, SoulCycle called Ross a "passive investor" who is "not involved in the management of SoulCycle."

So how is Ross, who also owns the Miami Dolphins, a "passive investor" if his company bought Equinox, which owns SoulCycle?

  • The answer is that, over the years, Related has been diluted via new Equinox share sales and some secondary sales by Related itself. For example, private equity firm L Catterton bought in two years ago.
  • An Equinox spokesman tells me that, as of now, Ross and Related are minority shareholders in Equinox.
    • Moreover, SoulCycle's shelved IPO docs show that Ross wasn't on its board of directors, even though he would have been (alongside one other Related rep) had the offering closed.
    • Ross is on the Equinox board, although is not chairman.
  • There is no publicly-available indication that Equinox or SoulCycle pay dividends or other profit cuts to Ross, although obviously he'd benefit financially were either company to be sold.

The bottom line: When you take on an investor, you sometimes take on more than just their money. And, for investors, your activities can have unintended consequences for your companies.

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

Ina Fried, author of Login
42 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Microsoft's metaverse maneuvering

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Microsoft is pitching investors and regulators that its $68 billion Activision Blizzard deal is all about the metaverse, that nebulous buzzword taking the tech world by storm.

What they're saying: By my colleague Stephen Totilo's count, Nadella used the word "metaverse" at least five times in his conference call discussing the deal. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick mentioned the metaverse four times, while Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer used the term twice.

Women in same-gender partnerships face a double pay gap

Expand chart
Data: The Hamilton Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A married female couple will bring home lower wages, on average, than an opposite-gender married couple or a same-gender male couple.

Why it matters: Women in same-gender partnerships can experience (at least) two kinds of discrimination, based on their gender and on their sexual orientation.