News AB InBev's ZX Ventures Buys Minority Stake In RateBeer

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Jason, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. terryNYC

    terryNYC Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2015 New York

    It is obvious most of the postings in this thread originate from people who have never been in senior management at any firm.

    AB's VC arm (this is not the same as AB BTW) obtains two immediate benefits from this investment: big data to plug into their planning systems and a potential advertising platform like Facebook for beer enthusiasts. That is enough return to justify a low-valuation investment such as this one.

    Generally, VC engagement in management is limited unless things are going very wrong. As a deal this strongly resembles Amazon's investment in IMDB and is likely to have similar results, and one may also point out that McDonald's massive investment in Chipotle enabled that firm's success without undesirable affect.

    As far as the RB announcement taking a while. It was a one-man show and suddenly there is a team, resources! The first thing to do is structure, start, and enlarge the team, get everyone up to speed and coordinated, do resource planning of a sort this firm never had to do before, and get to work. Then probably take a holiday for the first time in years. One talks about it later as doing precedes talking. There may also have been restrictions based on the VC reporting requirements in the legal jurisdiction where this occurred.

    Anyone really interested in the terms can probably find out by investigating. AB is public and somewhere in the quarterly or annual filings these details will be found.

    I'm not a RB partisan and find many more useful reviews here on BA, however the noise in this thread is unnecessary. If anything really does change for the worse it will be obvious. Meantime it is fair to wish them congratulations on achieving solvency and best wishes for future success.
  2. Buggyhare

    Buggyhare Initiate (110) Mar 2, 2017 Florida

    Hahaha exactly
    Rufus1 likes this.
  3. Buggyhare

    Buggyhare Initiate (110) Mar 2, 2017 Florida

    Or not
    Rufus1 likes this.
  4. fern22

    fern22 Aspirant (226) Dec 12, 2016 Michigan

    Precisely. BA users are a bunch of stupid peasant-common poverty boys who couldn't possibly understand the sociopathic processes associated with running a public multinational corporation that shoves piss water down people's throat, lobbies our congress against craft breweries, and media trains America to think they're amazing. Gotta smash some Budweisers with Chad and Brad at the country bar while watch football and country music, right?

    You're a 100% right about the nine months of being in the dark about it. Lots of legality and other sell your soul stuff so you can't tell the community you pretend to care about what's really going on. It would probably take 1 hour of his life to have written a nice post every now and then to update his life's work. It's funny though. You'd have thought that RateBeer and AB would've wanted to upkeep the image of their RB by trying not to destroy their public image. Or perhaps it's the fact that Ratebeer did indeed hide this to avoid community fallout in order to keep the deal sealed, intact, and the money guaranteed in his wallet.

    The point is, I think the "noise" your talking about is BA's issue with corporatism in America and how it's affecting our hobby... and it's well justified. To be fair, people in every trade circle still sell their first-born for anything that says "Bourbon County" on it.

    Anyways, this is my first post on BA to participate in the discussion of craft brews. Why is this your first post on a blank profile you've held here since 2015? Did you leave RB too?
    #164 fern22, Jun 7, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
    Oktoberfiesta and Rufus1 like this.
  5. napdynmite

    napdynmite Devotee (444) Jul 19, 2014 Illinois
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    What if you had been?
  6. Rufus1

    Rufus1 Aspirant (265) May 24, 2017 Kentucky

    Quid Pro Quo at it's lowest! Stay true BeerAdvocate.
  7. Obxer

    Obxer Aspirant (210) Jan 7, 2015 Virginia

    You can be sure InBev did not buy in out of altruism. They very clearly want something in return. And we know that is not to improve the lives of independent craft brewers. Even if their schemes are not evident in the reviews themselves, and even if the reviews remain unfiltered and unbiased (although I've not been a fan of the quality of RateBeer's reviews, anyway), we know they will be collecting all of that data (including data regarding the contributors, of course) and using that to stamp out the competition, i.e., the independent craft brewers we all love.
  8. Haybeerman

    Haybeerman Poo-Bah (2,333) May 21, 2008 Colorado
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    As the smaller craft brewers age without succession plans and private equity companies start snapping them up faster than ABI and Molson Coors can ever dream of....what then pray tell?
  9. seedyone

    seedyone Meyvn (1,062) Jul 1, 2009 New York

    Shows how far up their butts AB InBev’s Hydra-like heads are.

    Glad to see my instincts in 2009 were functioning.

    Oooo...look a beer! Gotta go. :wink:
    Rufus1 likes this.
  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,545) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Perhaps you discussed this elsewhere but what is the explanation that there was no disclosure of the ABI investment when the deal was completed (October 2016)?

    Rufus1 likes this.
  11. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Devotee (406) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Remind me again which companies ABInbev has invested a minority stake in and not later purchased the operation outright?
    Rufus1 likes this.
  12. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,459) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Here are a few:

    Fordham and Dominion Brewing — 40 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev

    Kona Brewing — 32 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev

    Redhook Brewery — 32 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev

    Widmer Brewing — 32 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch InBe
    shyhenry and LambicPentameter like this.
  13. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,487) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Perhaps to someone with absolutely no insight into the business goals and rationale behind the purchase.

    I think this is a pretty well thought out post, by and large.

    However, I don't think the explanation for waiting to announce for 9 months really flies. I realize they were probably busy as all get out, but writing up a press release for something like this is not terribly time-consuming. In fact, one might argue that, from a smart business perspective, writing out that press release and stemming some of the inevitable backlash and speculation of impropriety/bias should have been one of the "doing" things on their list.

    I suspect they waited so that, as others have speculated, they could have access to the new data set they had just purchased without any noise or contamination that would inevitably come with the 'you just hit a nest of hornets' type of reaction that always accompanies ABI making waves in the craft beer industry. Doesn't make it any less problematic, even if true, but it certainly helps to understand the possible mindset.


    Or by "noise" he's referring to the often emotional, reactionary posts that prefer to automatically see all things that involve ABI's name anywhere near it as the devil's soul-selling work. Any semblance of a good point that you might have had was ruined by a bunch of demonizing, culture war nonsense.
    LeRose likes this.
  14. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,459) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'd hazard a guess that it's a bit more than just having access to the data. I suspect that they were also creating and putting in software refinements that improve the software that was handling the data and some safeguards that would compensate for or help deal with attempts to corrupt the data by irate users or potential folks who would join just to try and corrupt the data with phony input.
    LambicPentameter likes this.
  15. Wayniac

    Wayniac Initiate (117) Jan 8, 2017 Virginia

    Never used the RateBeer app anyway. This makes it very easy to just stay away. I'll just stay here at Beer Advocate where its nice and cozy (and AB InBev free).
    cfh64 likes this.
  16. UncleDavey

    UncleDavey Initiate (110) Nov 23, 2014 Georgia

    First BA post. Read this thread with interest to get perspective of people much more passionate than me about the RB 'announcement'.

    After 36 years in IT working with vast volumes of customer data my thought is this- there are many issues with privacy laws (outside of the US) that could create challenges to a company that wanted simply to buy raw data from a company. Purchasing an interest in that company potentially eases some of these challenges, as the data stays within the corporate umbrella.

    This could be little more than an easy way to get large volumes of information for future use. That said, the optics of only releasing the news of the partnership when it may have gotten exposed by others certainly taints the whole deal.

    I don't use RB at all, but suspect it will be tainted long term much like the many breweries that have taken a big ABI payday.
    LeRose, LambicPentameter, zid and 3 others like this.
  17. CHickman

    CHickman Poo-Bah (2,716) Jan 7, 2009 New York

    Damn straight on this point, there is a motive behind this funding and it has to be in the form of some level of profit.
    FatBoyGotSwagger likes this.
  18. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,459) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Very good point about those privacy laws being factor influencing the decision.
  19. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Devotee (406) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, buy out the up and coming award winners before they are announced and then ride out the "impressive commercial effect."

    From the RB site:

    RateBeer Best Awards are among the most prestigious and desired awards in all of beverage because of their impressive commercial effect. RateBeer Best has catapulted breweries from obscure aficionado fascination to international reknown, from the brink of shuttering to stunning commercial success, and from slow uncertain beginnings to well-financed expansions."
    CHickman likes this.
  20. henryj

    henryj Initiate (0) May 6, 2016 New Mexico

    I can't believe what I am reading. BA sold out to AB?
  21. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,507) Aug 23, 1996 California

    You need to work on your reading comprehension.
  22. soccerbrew

    soccerbrew Aspirant (249) Apr 18, 2005 Washington

    Love this blog and don't post but I'll be canceling my RateBeer email. AB is not good for home brewers and craft beer in general.
  23. reefer_bob

    reefer_bob Disciple (358) May 13, 2014 California
    Beer Trader

    I think we should start a list of who's asked to be removed from the RB site...
    Noble (altering all of their data)
  24. BeerMeAndRepeat

    BeerMeAndRepeat Initiate (117) May 17, 2011 New Jersey

    Seriously, how can anyone possibly think RateBeer is legitimate anymore? Hold on a sec, breaking news:
    Satan also buys a minority stake in RateBeer. "I'm not up to anything devious and am only trying to provide financial resources while respecting the integrity of the site's independence," he said while fondling Joe Tucker's soul. "Mortals have desires and I just seek to sate them, for fair trade of course.", he said while drinking a Bud Light Lime. When asked about InBev's intentions he stated, " AB InBev and I have a great relationship from our days reworking the American beer distribution network, I have no doubt they saw the same opportunity I did to take what is theirs and crush, er...negotiate with those who would oppose their fizzy yellow will."
  25. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,507) Aug 23, 1996 California

    Our integrity isn't for sale.
  26. HopsAreDaMan

    HopsAreDaMan Crusader (707) Jul 28, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Member


    And who are you--a person with only one post, and no reviews or ratings, without any proof that you have any experience at all in "senior management at any firm."--to make casual judgements about others on this site?

    How do you define "noise"? And who determines what is and isn't necessary?

    -- Another judgment. How exactly, will it be "obvious"?

    What kind of experience and/or credibility regarding your opinions in this matter do you bring to this discussion?

    Joe in Missouri
    TheDoctor and meefmoff like this.
  27. FactoryPhil436

    FactoryPhil436 Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2017

    All of you are always crying about AB Inbev, the truth is if it wasn't for them none of you would be drinking craft beer. They started the beer business in America, if it wasn't for them working on nation wide distribution you would all be drinking local piss your neighbor made. If you owned your own company and made a beer you loves and put your whole life into making, would you not want the world world to try it and actually make a profitable business out of making beer. That's what AB Inbev is providing. A chance to let everyone around the globe try your favorite beer, so quite crying all the time
  28. CNoj012

    CNoj012 Poo-Bah (1,553) Dec 7, 2014 New York
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Wowzas! I'm no beer history buff, but you sir could not be more wrong.
  29. HopsAreDaMan

    HopsAreDaMan Crusader (707) Jul 28, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Member

    Thanks for the wisdom. If you take a look at an oft-used defense mechanism called 'psychological projection' (, you may realize that you are very likely projecting your own judgments onto others.

    What is it that you are currently crying all the time about? ; )
    Lone_Freighter likes this.
  30. cjgiant

    cjgiant Poo-Bah (3,989) Jul 13, 2013 District of Columbia
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Granted, the last three (plus I thought one more recently purchased) are themselves owned by/considered to be one company-Craft Brewers Alliance, which is owned by ABI 32% (and at one point a couple years back, an infinitesimal percentage point by this poster :wink:)
    Ranbot and drtth like this.
  31. Haybeerman

    Haybeerman Poo-Bah (2,333) May 21, 2008 Colorado
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch founded Anheuser-Busch in 1852. Frederich Eduard Johannes Muller founded Plank Road (Miller) in 1855. Adolph Herman Joseph Coors founded Coors in 1873 (he had a business partner, Jacob Schiller, he bought out - they started in 1868).

    Not taking anything away from the heritage, but Yuengling was established in 1829 (the oldest brewery in the US still in operation). Without too much more fanfare, the actual first brewery in the US was established in 1612 - Adrian Block and Hans Christiansen establish a brewery on the on the southern tip of New Amsterdam (now known as Manhattan).

    ABI didn't start the beer business in America by a long shot; they were best known, along with a handful of other brewers established between 1820 and 1880, to be among the first to successfully transport beers to other markets....sort of among the first self-distributing breweries - can ya say "ironic'.
  32. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Devotee (406) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Actually no... Had AB Inbev not existed Europe would have filled the void. The craft beer movement was largely driven by people who went to Europe and said why does their stuff taste so much better than our macro garbage and then went out and reproduced European style stuff.
  33. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,459) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Well, yes, I ignored the full chain. But that seems only fair since most everyone else wants to ignore the fact that it is Zx that owns a minority share of RB. :wink::rolling_eyes:
    cjgiant likes this.
  34. deanhilton51

    deanhilton51 Initiate (116) Aug 6, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    This is just wrong. Big Beer has the same ethics (lack of) as Big Oil, Big Pharma and the rest of them.
  35. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,455) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    As comforting as this must be to many folks to know they are knowledgeable enough about business to see the big picture from a broad view, I highly doubt it will make any difference in the perception of many, many people who use the site that they have been taken over by the enemy. I owned a business, but never graduated college, so not sure what the industry name is for the perception that when a farmer buys a pig it's to make bacon.
  36. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    Don't know about barley - they likely need too much of it to be a single source. But they do grow their own rice, even have a proprietary variety of it. And that's just US
  37. zstef99

    zstef99 Initiate (52) Dec 25, 2008 New York

    A company that has tried to stifle the development of independent craft brewers now partially owns one of the biggest sources of information about independent craft brewers. Of course they will use this new resource as a tool in their battle against independent craft brewers. That should be concerning to anyone who enjoys the diversity of the craft beer movement.
    Lone_Freighter likes this.
  38. Thankin_Hank

    Thankin_Hank Crusader (773) Nov 18, 2013 Texas
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I always tell people I like Beer Advocate.
    Todd likes this.
  39. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Aspirant (211) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Pure speculation on my part, but I'd guess that the actual ratings are only a small part of what they find valuable about RB. What's really valuable is all of the behavioral/browsing data they now have access to. ABI can analyze how people are navigating the site. What beers are people pulling up? When and where are people using the site? If you've filled out a profile, well ABI can use that data as well to do a bunch of segmentation analysis. If you've connected your Facebook profile with RB, then ABI has access to whatever data (profile, friends, likes, I have no idea as I don't use RB) gets shared between the sites. I don't have an RB app on my phone, but I'd assume that location services are turned on by default (find places near you), so ABI has that data as well (along with a direct conduit to reach you when you're in a bar or restaurant at the moment that you're trying to figure out what to order).

    Here's an archived snapshot of RB's privacy policy as of Sep 12, 2016:

    Compare that to their privacy policy today (updated on Sep 26). I can't help but think that ABI really wanted to get their hands on all of that back-end data.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,545) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    @CB_Michigan, thank you for doing that RateBeer Privacy Policy change research and posting about it. There is a BIG difference between the Sept. 12 policy and the Sept. 26 policy. There is zero doubt in my mind that this vast difference was due to the 'help' of ABI. And 'ironically' this change was made before the business deal was consummated (October 2016). It is my guess that ABI requested this change prior to committing to provide investment dollars.

    I doubt that many RateBeer users are aware of this Privacy Policy change but if they were this would be one more reason to stop using the RateBeer website.