September 23, 2021

O'Melveny's generous perquisites

       Last week, O'Melveny announced that it would provide Peloton to all of its employees. They then scheduled interviews with reporters to discuss this news, resulting in articles by Law360, Reuters, The ABA Journal, Above the Law, and The American Lawyer. (Incidentally, here is a link to O'Melveny's public relations manager talking about how he manipulates journalists into advertising for the firm.)

       With all that publicity, you're probably wondering what they revealed. Perhaps O'Melveny bought a Peloton bike for each of its employees. The owner of a tiny suburban law firm recently bought his twenty employees Peloton bikes. O'Melveny's partners made an average of $2.5 million each in 2020, so maybe they did the same. No, that didn't happen. Did they pay for Peloton's $39/month "All Access Membership" plan? No, not that either. 

       O'Melveny gave its employees the lowest-tier $12.99/month "Peloton Digital Membership," and an unspecified discount on the $39/month membership and bike. (The amount of that discount is likely trivial, because if it was worthwhile they would have presumably called attention to it during the publicity stunt.)

       This is being offered through Peloton's "Corporate Wellness" partnership, which is a way for Peloton to sell its service to companies in bulk. So O'Melveny's partners will probably not pay the full $12.99, since bulk sales usually cost less per-unit than retail. I would guess that Peloton is picking up a significant portion of the cost as a way of getting companies to make Peloton their primary exercise offering.       

       Also, apropos of this topic, below is a passage from a newly-released best seller. After explaining the benefits of exercise, the author cautions against getting addicted to "running wheels."

It's important to know that running wheels are not necessarily a model for a healthy lifestyle. In short, running wheels are a drug. Mice placed in a complex maze of 230 meters of tunnels including water, food, digging material, nests -- in other words a big area with a lot of cool stuff to do -- as well as a running wheel, will spend much of their time on the running wheel and leave large segments of the maze unexplored. Once rodents start using a running wheel, it's hard for them to stop. Rodents run much farther on a running wheel than they do on a flat treadmill or in a maze, and also much farther than they do during normal locomotion in natural environments. Caged rodents given access to a running wheel will run until their tails are permanently curved upward and back towards their head in the shape of the running wheel. The smaller the wheel, the sharper the curve of the tail. In some cases rats run until they die. 

Dr. Anna Lembke, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence, Chapter 7 (2021). 

       I understand why O'Melveny's partners would want their employees to use a Peloton bike. They want attorneys to be at the firm's beck and call, including after hours. So they should exercise on something compact that they can keep near their computer. That way if they get an email in the middle of it, they can quickly get to work.

       But who would have thought that simply going to a gym with varied options or biking in the scenic outdoors, with no one receiving data on what you did,1 would one day become a bygone luxury.

Peloton apparently sends companies data on their employees' workouts. The companies "receive aggregated and anonymized data reports that reveal the positive effect Peloton has on employees' physical and mental wellness."

Brad Butwin, George Demos, Brandon Jacobsen, o'melveny, omm, pymetrics