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

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

  1. fern22

    fern22 Initiate (199) Dec 12, 2016 Michigan

    Well duh the noise is emotional, but it's also filled with rational concerns to a real problem. We view craft as sacrosanct, thus we will be quite passionate about it. Don't try to pass on this "I'm not emotional I'm a big man" crap. Ratebeer has a much more far reaching audience than most beer review sites do and that poises AB for influencing our community. I also gave fair mention to Goose Island did I not? AB did not run them through the earth yet. You also made zero mention of the fact that he wanted to let us know how "superior" he was, because he worked in senior management at some "firm" with a blank account. The content of the post was almost pseudo-intellectual. It was a crappy post with a crappy disposition, earning one in kind.

    We need to come together and make sure we investigate thoroughly what is going on with RB and keep wise to their future activities. Being hypercritical with each other, and slinging mud, despite how emotional we are, shouldn't be taking place. We don't really have time for that crap.
    #201 fern22, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
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  2. Brewhead55

    Brewhead55 Aspirant (227) Apr 21, 2014 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    So true. So true... McDonald's has been lobbying against burrito distribution and accessibility for such a long time. Also their plays to control Avocado and Sour Cream commodities totally make sense now. Glad the acquisition didn't impact their bottom line.
    spoony and Sammy like this.
  3. zid

    zid Savant (924) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Good job. From my perspective it APPEARS that the older privacy policy was written very quickly (and unprofessionally)... and the new policy actually involved lawyers. I wouldn't be surprised if this was an absolute necessity for the sale. I don't think it reflects a change in attitude towards data as much as it reflects a change in professionalism.
    #203 zid, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
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  4. zid

    zid Savant (924) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    I appreciate your points in the first half of your post, but regarding the announcement - it looks like they managed to put out an announcement on the same day that the story got out (not that I know the details though)... so moving quickly on an announcement was certainly possible despite whatever else they had on their plate. It was certainly an important component of the whole thing.
    Tmwright7 and LambicPentameter like this.
  5. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Zealot (544) Dec 12, 2014 California

    Probably best and most measured post I have read about this whole thing.
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  6. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,479) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I'm not sure what you're talking about with this "big man" comment. I'm not saying it's improper to feel emotional or passionate about an issue like this. I, too, am passionate about craft beer. My point is in keeping that passion and rational, objective analysis of this development separate so as not to cloud our ability to review what is happening with a bunch of histrionics.

    Just as an example, I view demands by brewers to have user-generated content that they don't, themselves, own to be removed from Rate Beer in protest over this move to be just that--emotional appeal histrionics.

    By my view, his post and the responses he got were not "in kind". His opening line bordered on condescending: "most of the postings in this thread originate from people who have never been in senior management at any firm" Certainly not the most magnanimous way to expound on his opinions, but pretty mild in the grand scheme of things.

    Your response was openly hostile: "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?"

    While his post could have done without the initial comment, the rest of his post focused on the details of the transaction and possible implications and his thoughts on both. In my response to him, I actually disagreed with his explanation for RB not announcing this until 9 months after the fact and said so.

    Again, I saw more "mud" coming from the responses than from his initial post, which is why I bothered to respond.

    I agree with the principle of what you're saying here, but so often, any move involving ABI is painted as morally corrupt. The baseline involves mudslinging and character questioning. It's hard to listen to someone who actually identified RB's actions as "soul selling" to then come around and lament all the mud slinging.

    In reality, ABI and RB (and Wicked Weed and Goose Island and whoever else) are run by people. They employ people. There are definitely things to be wary of when you're dealing with an enormous corporation like ABI--with that kind of size comes an inherent tendency to become detached with regards to decision making. But by and large, the real, on the ground people who benefit in enormous ways from ABI's success get lost in the rabble rousing.
    LeRose and drtth like this.
  7. Brewhead55

    Brewhead55 Aspirant (227) Apr 21, 2014 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Emotional? Or completely rational? Please explain to me how a direct competitor that is trying to directly do your business harm through lobbying, acquisitions, ingredient control and now data consumption is not harmful to their business?

    If I owned a brewery and a conglomerate that is trying to piece-meal together tactics and strategies that will harm my business, then purchases a website where users rate and discuss my products, I'd see this as a pure conflict of interest. So ratebeer shows my beers and data/reviews associated with our products... Now my competitor and enemy controls this data, and could easily manipulate said data and the products it markets and promotes? Oh its cool- we'll just take their word for it and trust that AB will be fair... :rolling_eyes: They haven't done anything thus far to make a craft brewery think otherwise. haha

    While some of these statements from breweries maaaaayyyy be coming from an emotional place, the practicality behind it is because it stems from a very real threat to their financial and brand success.
    #207 Brewhead55, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
  8. Haybeerman

    Haybeerman Poo-Bah (2,301) May 21, 2008 Colorado
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Maybe that's why McDonald's sold-off Chipotle after they grew it from 14 to 500 locations
  9. fern22

    fern22 Initiate (199) Dec 12, 2016 Michigan

    If he had wanted to win people over, he would've started that differently and, you're right, that doesn't change his content, which I mostly disagreed with. I wanted the post to capture the theme of sarcasm. I personally have very little tolerance for condescending statements, because it usually indicates that you're not going to be worth a person's time regardless of what you say.

    Personally, I don't disagree with his comparison to McDonald's and Chipolte, but it seems to me that's a variable happenstance of business that may or may not have been completely deliberate. What was McDonald's original intentions? Did they see the asset as a cash cow in the beginning to grow and strip consumer value of, or did they intend to grow it into a large chain and sell it off at higher value once they made their money? Makes me wonder what AB is planning on doing with Goose Island (for example). Most strategies in companies that big are well calculated risks (actuaries involved?), but, from my experience, it might be that it was a market penetrating decision on heresay more than anything. A comapny's vision can change in time as well with different leadership too, which can be a very large factor to acquired subsidiaries.

    I saw that you disagreed with the thinking on the RB announcement, and I'm not taking issue with that. It doesn't seem that logical and there were a lot of options RB and AB had at the table to do this smoother.

    You do you.

    I don't particularly have a black & white view of this situation, if that's what you are insinuating, but I may appear to due to my inflammatory remarks towards AB and the user, which I stand by. I understand that they have multiple routes to take to reveal their business plans for their buyout partners, just like with what they've done with Goose Island. However, this move indicates a lot of different motives. Goose Island is receiving tons of distribution from that buyout, which is good, but ...AB lobbied very effectively for priority on distribution. The way they're moving right now indicates that their doing in response to slow down of expected financials. I'm not saying they aren't profitable or meeting their expected revenue, but I'm thinking they knew they could be better, if it wasn't for craft.

    There's simply so much against AB on the table, to sell to them is huge risk to a legacy like that. RB accepting legal details, in this case, to not announce a huge move like this is equivalent to selling your soul. There's numerous dangers to what this could do to craft and that had to have been on the owner's mind while this was going through. A lot of people that loved what him and wife had made I'm sure feel really down about it. A lot of news on AB in the past 3 months has been anything but positive, and the I really wonder what that money could buy you over a finely-constructed legacy to an industry that will, undoubtedly, endure.
    #209 fern22, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
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  10. Stagester

    Stagester Initiate (112) Oct 22, 2013 Idaho

    Its pretty simple. Beer Voltron wants to control all the "craft" universe with their fake craft brands and multiple fake beer news sites. Unfortunately RB is the latest to succumb. You will assimilate.
  11. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (824) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Been an RB member for 13+ years and I find it funny all of the apologizing that the membership is doing. It's obvious why ABI via ZXV would want to invest in a site like RB, but very few want to realize that it's not about their personal ratings, nor about specific ratings, in particular. It's about the trends that ratings as a whole can identify. Couple that with the back end data that they now have available to them and you've got what amounts to a very well-thought-out investment by ABI in regards to the direction that The High End is moving.
  12. bilbobrewer

    bilbobrewer Aspirant (296) Jul 16, 2014 Quebec (Canada)

    So along with their 'Trojan Horse' strategy of buying up select craft brewers, they're adding public opinion websites to their tool kit.

    Wake up folks...the craft movement is under siege, and it won't end well for us.
  13. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (824) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Though I giggled at the "Beer Voltron" bit, you're a bit off as far as your categorization of the constituent parts of said Voltron.
  14. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (824) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    I'm sure this has been mentioned before in other threads, but who is "us"?

    The only people directly affected by ABI's acquisitions are those that are acquired (in a positive way) and other breweries of similar size and sales strategy (in a negative way).

    ABI is NOT bad for the craft beer consumer. It is bad for craft breweries that are in direct competition with the breweries in The High End. This is a not-so-subtle distinction that seems to be lost on quite a few.
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  15. Haybeerman

    Haybeerman Poo-Bah (2,301) May 21, 2008 Colorado
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Not an ABI fan, but I can't help but notice "craft" has been "bad" for least if losing high single digit market share is an acceptable definition of "bad". It bears pointing out that the "competition" door swing both ways as both large and small brewers compete for the same pie (beer business is relatively flat in the US).
  16. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Disciple (375) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    The only thing subtle is the classic doublespeak? All craft breweries are in direct competition with the breweries in The High End and if it is bad for them, it's bad for the consumer who supports them....
    Miles_in_beer_city likes this.
  17. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (824) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    The VAST majority of the breweries that have opened over the last 5 or 6 years are very small in their production capacity and they basically only sell beer out of their taproom.

    Even though they make beer, they are decidedly NOT in direct competition with The High End, unless, of course, they decide to want to sell beer outside of their taproom. In that case they would be.
  18. Tmwright7

    Tmwright7 Initiate (190) Feb 3, 2015 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    But what if I decide to grab a six pack of goose IPA to consume at home, instead of heading down the road to my local brewery? It doesn't matter if the local brewery distributes or not, they still lost my dollars to Goose.
  19. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (824) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    In that example, sure, your local brewery loses money, but unless you only buy beer from that local then that example doesn't hold much water. Every time you buy a beer everyone who didn't make that beer loses. I don't know about you, but it'd be pretty boring to just drink the beer produced by a single brewery.
  20. Brewhead55

    Brewhead55 Aspirant (227) Apr 21, 2014 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    You're right. They are just in direct competition with AB's seedy policy influence that can impact craft beer and everything small breweries work want to grow and work towards.
  21. bilbobrewer

    bilbobrewer Aspirant (296) Jul 16, 2014 Quebec (Canada)

    Wow, dude. You haz coma.
    When you see 10 Barrel or Hop Valley on sale for $7.99 at places like Fred Meyer, (where the majors now rent/control more of the beer cooler shelf space than they did even 6 months ago), think about why they're doing it Big hint: to eventually bankrupt much of the competition.
    Sammy likes this.
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,446) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    There are a limited number of craft beer consumers and a limited amount of dollars to be spent. There is indeed 'competition' here for money.

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  23. Dandrewjohn

    Dandrewjohn Initiate (152) Apr 13, 2013 Texas

    I tend to agree with the consensus, that ABI made this move for strategic / planning purposes, as they continue their move deeper into the craft beer business. It seems like an efficient way to plug into a whole lot of industry data for little cost. On another note, in reading RB's announcement above I've begun to wonder if there's an app or template out there for craft beer owners who are announcing a partial or complete buyout. They all sound so much alike, maybe there's a "craft beer buyout template" in MS Word or something. Kinda tired of reading the same old tripe.
  24. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,410) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I don't disagree with this since I think every company in every industry is in business so that customers buy their product. Perhaps they don't want to think in terms that when a customer buys their product another company doesn't make a sale, or that their success will mean others' failures, and perhaps they are really good people and not at all evil, but the truth is every company is in the business of destroying their competition with whatever tools they have to do it. All that changes is who the competition is and how much a company can afford to spend to defeat them.
  25. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,370) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    You just made his point for him, but with some different words.

    The Fred Meyer customer gets lower prices. Elysian gets better sales and positive growth among folks who probably wouldn't have tried their beers at all, ever. The Elysian competitors apper to lose shelf space and sales at Fred Meyer even though they already cost less at Fred Meyer than they do at many other other stores anyway. (But hard to be sure without access to the Fred Meyer accounting data and invetory records.)

    BTW, who were the Elysian (and ABI) direct competitors already !being sold at Fred Meyer? What other stuff besides cheap beer can a Fred Meyer customer save money on by paying less? Personally, I can't say as I almost never shop there.or at comparable places, except for a few specialty items nobody else seems to offer. As for beer, Elysian doesn't attract me much since i have access to local breweries that offer beers just as good or better. (Although I might someday try one or two Elysian beers because I never see them and enjoy trying new beers before moving on to other new beers.)
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  26. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (1,914) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Premium Member

    Good point, any credibility will now be questioned.
    Sammy likes this.
  27. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Disciple (375) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    It is a low bar. Getting a beer award from Inbev is kind of like getting a humanitarian award from Pol Pot....
  28. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,687) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Ratings, reviews, they are all visible to anyone out there without having an account on BA or RB so I reckon the trends have already been closely scrutinized. Back end data?
    cavedave likes this.
  29. Miles_in_beer_city

    Miles_in_beer_city Aspirant (210) Jun 18, 2014 North Carolina

    Or buying a 6 pack of GI IPA that replaced a smaller brewery's IPA due to ABI contract with distributors that mandate ABI products be put ahead of non-ABI product.

    At least here ABI branded IPA's are the cheapest in the grocery store, GI and Kona primarily, but I pass on the GI, as the quality has suffered as I'm sure capacity has been ramped up for nationwide distribution. Sadly it just isn't as good as it was years ago.
    Tmwright7 likes this.
  30. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (299) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico
    Beer Trader

    I have yet to see AB INBEV "craft" beers severely undercut the competition (as far as what consumers are paying). I am sort of waiting for cheaper beer days for sure.

    By and large, its about what these bars and restaurants can get away with. If they buy a 1/2 bbl keg of GI IPA for $60, while local IPAs are $100, and they can still sell both for the same price, these places will do that. It'll be up to the consumer to make AB INBEV get a bit desperate and entice their distributors to entice restaurants to charge $4 instead of say $6.50 for a pint. We still have a say in the matter.

    Heck, I would probably buy the whole spectrum of AB INBEV ipas if they were priced below the competition. Yet one of the press releases/interviews that I read from a few weeks/months back, for AB INBEV, its all about branding and being a quality brand. Or the perception of quality. I forget the term they use, but it doesn't seem likely that they want their AB INBEV "craft" line to be considered budget "craft". But it's time we force their hand in the matter

    I think we are still in the infancy stages of some major price shifts (for the consumer). For now, beers like Space Dust are priced quite high, and GI IPA (at the cheapest place in the state) is priced the same as locals and most regional IPAs.

    They are definitely trying to trick people with the price. It;s all about perceived "quality" and "choice" with them. Scary stuff
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  31. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,370) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    In addition to a change in professionalism --moving from amateur-- I'd also suggest that this current version should have already existed and that the RB folks didn't do their homework about Copyright in the first place.
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  32. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,370) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    On the other hand I could believe that the barebones of that announcement were written long ago since I'd guess part of the motivation for delaying the announcement in the first place was preparation for the expected and predictable blowback and outrage among drinkers of flavorful beer who might actually care. (Just because the timing was not of their choice, the blowback was expected.)
    #232 drtth, Jun 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
    zid likes this.
  33. zid

    zid Savant (924) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    It definitely could have been written well in advance - Which of course doesn't indicate that they were too busy to make a statement earlier. :slight_smile:
    drtth likes this.
  34. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,370) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Unless that was part of what they were busy with earlier, found having "the team" active was helpful in making preparations. :-)

    I'd bet dollars to donuts they now have checks and balances in the basic software designed to detect and deal with attempts to manipulate data. (At least one brewry, ironically with the term "Noble" in their name, appears to have been found to have a representative with special log in priviledges allowing access to the Brewery page information, who was busily manipulating beer names of that brewery.)

    Isn't it interesting that among those voicing the most concern about the integrity of the data and possible manipulation the date, the first confirmed and reported example of manipulation was provided by RB themselves and was done by one of the outraged Breweries. :slight_frown:
    zid likes this.
  35. bilbobrewer

    bilbobrewer Aspirant (296) Jul 16, 2014 Quebec (Canada)

    In summary: Price wars by industry giants are all about the consumer, choice, value and represent the very best principles of free markets. Wow.

    Being completely oblivious must be SO glorious! Enjoy the stunning education with which y'all are about to get hit over the head.
  36. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,256) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Others can judge the affect on "quality" but rather than simply increasing capacity in Chicago, they've also moved production of many of the core Goose Island beers to multimillion barrel AB breweries:

    Miles_in_beer_city likes this.
  37. reefer_bob

    reefer_bob Disciple (345) May 13, 2014 California
    Beer Trader

    Some 10 Barrel Beers are made at the Fairfield, CA AB location...

  38. OhBierdedOne

    OhBierdedOne Aspirant (215) Dec 12, 2012 Texas

    I'm not too active on here, but have been active in the craft beer industry for the past decade. Just as with wine, putting a high score on a beer in a retail setting helps sell that product. It instills confidence in customers, especially useful with higher priced items. It also increases sales of that product around the clock, with no steward present.

    Over the years, in looking up reviews and ratings to post on the products gracing my shelves, I've noticed an indisputable trend of RB's beer scores being consistently higher than BA's (and numerous other publications and websites), by 3-4 points, and as much as 15 points on the exact same beer!

    Having tried thousands of beers, I can say the Bro's and the BA community are much more accurate. I prefer to use BA scores, as it seemed more of an act of good faith for my clientele.

    I'd only allow the bot-induced inflated scores of RB when I could find no other ratings, for bottles I knew were great that needed help due to my having misjudged the market, or on the occasional bad buy.

    The point to all of my long-winded chatter is that AB has bought into a sales tool that is especially powerful when used on the less beer-minded general public (their bread and butter, really).
    We will see RB scores on AB products go up, and likely be featured on labels.
    The craft beer faithful are such a wonderful group. Although I don't trust RB so much, I'm sad to see this happen as it is haven to many in the community.
    I've seen posted here that their credibility is now lost, to which I say, credibility can't be lost if it doesn't exist!
  39. OhBierdedOne

    OhBierdedOne Aspirant (215) Dec 12, 2012 Texas

    There's a remarkable difference in color in their Pub Beer brewed in Bend OR vs brewed in AB's Denver CO facility! One of the brewers brought my coworker and I samples to try side by side. The hops weren't quite as sharp or fresh tasting in the AB brewed version. AB's rendition was lower SRM, with a greenish tint to it, like Miller 64 before they started adding caramel coloring.
  40. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,370) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Some useful observations, and I agree with your concluding sentence, but a few things to consider a bit further.

    RB and BA have two different systems in place for the rating scales which means rhe overall summary numbers between those sites can differ for that reason alone. Similarly the ratings are being done by two partially different groups of people and the overall summary numbers can differ for that reason alone. Finally there can be a unique effect from the combination of the two different factors.

    Another consideration is that while one set of numbers may fit better with your personal experience, knowledge and judgement that does not make it necessarily true for other people as well.

    Also, almost all software systems can be said to use some form of what is sometimes called a bot. So a bot can be designed for an important legitimate purpose but some may also be created for malevolent purposes. Which is which sometimes isn't necessarily clear.

    All of which gets me to the point of saying that neither site could be said to be more or less credible in general before the minority share purchase at RB. One or the other could fit someone's personal tastes better and so be more credible and useful to that person, but that does not make it the most credible fit for all.