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.
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.
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.