SoulCycle's top instructors had sex with clients, 'fat-shamed' coworkers, and used homophobic and racist language, insiders say

Hello everyone! Welcome to this weekly roundup of Business Insider stories from co-Editor in Chief Matt Turner. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every Sunday.

Read on for more on SoulCycle's top instructors mistreating staff, Moderna's research revolution, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai's leadership shift.


We now have two promising coronavirus vaccines, with Moderna's promising results this week backing up those from Pfizer the previous week.

That has some employers already wondering whether they can make it mandatory for employees to get vaccinated, Yoonji Han and Jack Newsham reported. You can read their story in full here:

  • Employers are frantically calling labor lawyers to ask if they can make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory in the workplace

Soulcycle's top instructors mistreated staff

From Katie Warren:

In August 2014, Jennifer Brody was working as a studio manager at California's Palo Alto SoulCycle when she met Conor Kelly, a "master instructor" with SoulCycle. Kelly was in town from the East Coast to teach a class.

After riding in his class, Brody, who is a Black woman, said she changed out of her workout clothes and put a bandana on her head. When she passed Kelly in the studio, she said, he laughed and said "Whoa — Aunt Jemima!" in an apparent reference to the syrup and pancake brand.

"That he felt OK calling me 'Aunt Jemima' in the middle of a studio lobby in Palo Alto was disgusting," Brody recently told Business Insider. Brody said she told a couple of instructors of color about Kelly's remark, but she didn't officially report it because, she believed, "There wasn't anyone who would have cared."

"SoulCycle kind of turned the cheek on a lot of stuff as long as they were making money," Brody added.

SoulCycle instructors were fawned over by riders and the company's top brass, but insiders said inappropriate behavior became more commonplace as SoulCycle's cult following grew.

Read the full story here:

  • SoulCycle's top instructors had sex with clients, 'fat-shamed' coworkers, and used homophobic and racist language, but the company treated them like Hollywood stars anyway, insiders say

Moderna's research revolution

From Andy Dunn:

In January, Stéphane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna, was skimming through the news on his iPad while vacationing with his family in the south of France. A headline stopped his finger: "Health Officials Work to Solve China's Mystery Virus Outbreak," The Wall Street Journal reported on January 6.

The Frenchman, who is 48, wrote an email to Dr. Barney Graham, a vaccine researcher at the US National Institutes of Health, asking him what he knew about these pneumonia cases cropping up in central China.

Graham said he didn't yet know the identity of the mysterious virus, but within a few days it was identified as a novel coronavirus. Bancel urged the Graham to let him know when government scientists had the virus' genetic sequence.

His company, Moderna, was ready to get to work.

Now, less than a year later, Moderna and the NIH have developed a vaccine that appears to be highly effective at preventing people from coming down with COVID-19, the disease caused by that new virus. 

Read the full story here:

  • How the sprint for a coronavirus vaccine transformed Moderna into a $39 billion powerhouse that's poised to reshape biotech

Also read:

  • Pharmacies, doctor's offices and hospitals are gearing up to give coronavirus vaccines to millions of Americans. Here's how they're preparing and how much they stand to profit along the way.

Sundar Pichai's leadership shift

From Hugh Langley:

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped away from their day-to-day duties at Alphabet last year, an informal agreement with CEO Sundar Pichai was made: the two billionaire cofounders would make themselves available whenever Pichai called, but they would not initiate contact.

It was an important acknowledgement that Pichai, the understated, 48-year-old engineer who rose through the ranks, was now the sole decision maker at the helm of an internet powerhouse that includes Google, YouTube and Android. 

The founders' arrangement also signaled that the grueling task of steering the company through  some of the biggest crises in its history was now Pichai's problem.

Read the full story here:

  • Inside Larry Page and Sergey Brin's quiet agreement with Sundar Pichai that has forced Google's CEO to distinguish his leadership style

Also read:

  • Parler created a platform for conservatives by burning the Silicon Valley script. Inside the rapid, mysterious rise of the 'free speech' Twitter alternative.

ICYMI: Amazon puts the healthcare industry on notice

From Blake Dodge, Megan Hernbroth, and Shelby Livingston:

Ever since Amazon bought the online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, industry insiders have been waiting for Amazon's big move into the prescription-drug business. 

On Tuesday, it finally came, triggering a sell-off of shares for distributors, retail pharmacies, and health plans alike.

Read the full story:

  • Amazon just put the entire healthcare industry on notice with its latest push into pharmacy. Here's who stands to win and lose.

Also read:

  • Amazon's pharmacy deals are way more expensive than one of its key rivals', showing the long road ahead for the tech giant's ambitions to disrupt the industry

Here are some headlines from the past week that you might have missed.

— Matt

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