AB InBev's ZX Ventures Fully Acquires RateBeer

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,962) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    In June 2017—roughly nine months after it had occurred—we learned that ZX Venture's had bought a minority stake in RateBeer. This global disruptive growth group backed by Anheuser-Busch InBev has now fully acquired them.

    Here's the announcement:

    New RateBeer Investment

    While this won’t impact the day-to-day for anyone using on the site, I wanted to let you all know that ZX Ventures, a division of AB InBev, has fully acquired RateBeer.

    After ZX Ventures took a minority investment in RateBeer, we were able to make improvements to infrastructure, put out an in-house mobile app, and modernize key pages that as the only full-time employee with help from some amazing admins and volunteer coders, I was never able to tackle.

    Now, with access to greater resources, we’ll be able to continue modernizing the site, and expand into new areas, like an affiliate marketplace in Australia.

    RateBeer is a quality-focused organization, and our value to the community has always depended on our integrity, and willingness to put in greater effort to produce more meaningful scores and information. I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to serve you all. It’s been a great pleasure meeting so many of you in person, and through this more fully understanding our important role in industry, and the joy, pride and responsibility felt by so many out there in RateBeeria.

    It’s with this in mind – my great respect for what we’ve built – that I’ll remain working on the project in the same role, as global community manager, helping guide the site into even better future days.

    I look forward to seeing where the future takes us - thanks for helping shape this journey with me!

    To RateBeer! Cheers!


    thuey and dennis3951 like this.
  2. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,146) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    I knew that it was just a matter of time.
    Ever since the first investment, the site became wonky as hell. I wonder how things will pan out now...
  3. DrinkingThe413

    DrinkingThe413 Initiate (46) Jan 29, 2019 Massachusetts

    Might not necessarily ruin the integrity of RateBeer, but it does make me a bit uncomfortable that a beer company owns a formerly independent rating site/app. It's like Holiday Inn owning a hotel rating site, or Applebees owning a restaurant rating site. Just doesn't seem appropriate.
  4. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Crusader (796) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    And the 2019 winner for best American macro lager made without corn syrup goes to.....Bud Light!
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,485) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    You are 100% correct here. AB InBev owning RateBeer is most definitely a conflict of interest issue.

  6. Number1Framer

    Number1Framer Initiate (141) Mar 13, 2016 Wisconsin

    Ratebeer was my gateway into the online beer world starting with those little shelf tags with ratings retailers print out and hang on their shelves. It was my first exposure to ranked lists by style and it was my first time seeing the names of a lot of the big sought-after Whale bottles of yesteryear. Once my thirst for beer and its associated knowledge shifted to something beyond a percentage rating I lost my interest in the site as the forums and discussions there were very sparse at the time. At this point I honestly couldn't even tell you the last time I looked at it.
  7. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (633) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    It should be obvious that AB wants RateBeer for the exclusive access to the data, not the ratings. Analytics rules everything now, from sports, to Google/Facebook/Amazon search algorithms, Uber/Lyft pricing, politics, to selling beer. AB is playing Moneyball. A financially successful beer [or any product for that matter] is not necessarily one that gets high ratings and wins awards. They don't need to manipulate ratings to get ahead; they are already ahead because they have exclusive access to a massive and dynamic data set their competitors do not have.
  8. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (4,006) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Bingo! Manipulating ratings would be self defeating and decrease the value of their database.
  9. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (633) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    IronLover and bbtkd like this.
  10. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,962) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Yep. It's all about gaining access to data, analytics, and using it to their advantage.
  11. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (435) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    The big question on everyone's mind of course is "How much is all that data worth?"
    Sure. I'll ask.

    Good for RB. Take the cash. The Death Star has a well deserved reputation for strangling the life out of everything it can gets its hands on. RB will be no different.

    Now if I were making big decisions at let's say MolsonCoors for example, I would be looking for another version of RB to acquire.
    Now what the hell would that be?

    JackHorzempa likes this.
  12. Hoppedelic

    Hoppedelic Devotee (454) Dec 6, 2010 California
    Society Trader

    I’m assuming the owners of Beeradvocate would say that they would never sell this site to big beer but if they really came to them offering millions of dollars for it how could they actually decline that? That would be ridiculous!
  13. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (633) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I know what you are driving at, but my guess would be Untappd.
  14. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,475) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    The data is valuable, but as @Number1Framer mentioned the Rate Beer shelf sticker ratings also have a very physical presence in stores. I don't see them as much nowadays but I have a feeling that is due to the overwhelming number of new beer the stores stock a week in today's market. Most stores have a hard enough time getting a price tag sticker on the new stuff let alone adding supplemental information.

    Maybe in the distant future this would also be very valuable.
  15. cosmicdebris

    cosmicdebris Disciple (319) Feb 8, 2008 Connecticut

    If it smells unethical it probably is.
  16. jgould

    jgould Initiate (91) Oct 6, 2009 Texas

    Beer Advocate, how much did they offer you? I would imagine you were at least contacted by the acquisitions team. If you were contacted, props on declining the offer.
    HorseheadsHophead likes this.
  17. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (6,774) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    If they picked up RB for the metrics - which makes perfect sense - they need to leave it alone from the standpoint of influencing or otherwise inhibiting those metrics. I expect they would let them continue to run independently, though giving them the money to do what they do, only better so that they pull raters away from BA and Untappd.
  18. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (8,854) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    That would be the strategy I would have used if I was the person in charge of that acquisition - but we will see if they can resist tinkering.
  19. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,962) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    They've never approached us.
  20. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,373) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    The term "fully acquired" has only one meaning.
    HorseheadsHophead likes this.
  21. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    Unfortunately, RateBeer's active userbase in the United States has dwindled to the point that I'm guessing its data are too sparse to be of much use to AB InBev, beyond mere page views (and maybe that is all AB InBev cares about). RateBeer does, however, have a large and, as far as I can tell, growing userbase in England and much of Europe, and I bet data on their proclivities are what has attracted ZX Ventures' interest. International is an area that has never been a strength of BeerAdvocate.

    I'm glad that people in this thread are rejecting the early ignorant conspiracy theory that AB InBev was investing in RateBeer to put its thumb on the ratings scale.
  22. EmperorBevis

    EmperorBevis Poo-Bah (6,151) Sep 25, 2011 United Kingdom (England)
    Moderator Society

    You know what, I don’t like Ratebeer, never have. Seems to attract a lot of people that are real harsh on quality small batch microbrewers & rave/fawn over dull big brewery beers like the macros are going to give them money or a job.

    So I don’t foresee any great change happening.
    thesherrybomber likes this.
  23. RC51Mike

    RC51Mike Initiate (156) Dec 17, 2004 South Carolina

    In other news, Subway acquired the James Beard Foundation. Subway spokesperson said it’s just an uncanny coincidence that Subway was named winner in every category for the next five years.
  24. Dave_S

    Dave_S Initiate (83) May 18, 2017 England

    Huh - my pet peeve with them is that they're overly excitable about hyped US craft breweries with limited distribution. Looking at the Ratebeer Best By Style thing, Suarez Family and Hill Farmstead get two each of the top 15 Pale Lagers, where the Czech Republic as a whole only manages one (and Germany 4, but none in the top 7). Similarly, the only non-US entry in the "Belgian Session" top 15 is from Quebec, and Trillium and The Veil each have more entries in the top 15 wheat beers than the whole of Europe.

    Not trying to dump on those breweries btw, but the way that they're apparently basically the best at pretty much everything suggests a certain worldview from the people doing the rating...
  25. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (633) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    See also Beer Advocate scores. :wink:

    But we have much better discussions here that can cut through the regional biases.
  26. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,308) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    The physical rating stickers you used to see back in the day always struck me as marketing genius. Good for the beer, good for the store, good for the site. Never actually been to ratebeer and never (that I can remember) bought a beer based on the stickers, but they still always stuck out to me as clever
  27. MadMick

    MadMick Initiate (20) Dec 6, 2018 California

    As a beer guy, I dropped Rate Beer as soon as the investment was announced and haven't been back. Among the beer folks, it never even gets mentioned any more. So much for a site that is geared to beer folks - not very useful for comparing interchangeable rice and corn syrup swill. Congrats to the guys that sold out - I truly am happy for you. Wishing nothing but oblivion for AB's newest asset. AB remains the enemy of good beer and they prove it regularly by actions and words.
  28. jjamadorphd

    jjamadorphd Meyvn (1,289) Jul 21, 2012 Florida

    All the more reason for me to think I made the right choice when I picked BeerAdvocate as my one and only beer rating site. I truly love this place (though the app needs a little work.) Nonetheless, I hope BeerAdvocate continues to be what it is today and evolves as needed in the years to come...
  29. rudzud

    rudzud Poo-Bah (7,025) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    My local shops always had BA scores not RB.
  30. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (8,854) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    I remember back 7 or so years ago that a lot of places had both BA and RB shelf talkers.
  31. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,137) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    RBs grade inflation was always way worse than BAs. And grade inflation here is real.
    sharpski, VoodooBear and Hoppedelic like this.
  32. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    In fact the opposite is the case. RateBeer ratings always have been much lower than their Beer Advocate counterparts; RateBeer users are remarkably tough graders compared to Beer Advocate and Untappd users. For instance, the highest-rated beer on RateBeer is Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch, which gets a 4.54. A 4.54 rating here wouldn't rank a beer among the top 100. The same beer here, under the "Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout" name, gets a 4.84. The lowest-rated beer in the Top 250 here gets a 4.46. 4.46 would result in the third highest-rated beer on RateBeer.

    You're probably thinking of RateBeer's "score," which is based on a simple percentile rating system. BeerAdvocate, in contrast, used to apply a formula so that its old 100-point scale more closely resembled a typical wine-rating scale, with intentionally very few beers in the high 90s but many in the 80s and lower 90s. As a long-time RateBeer user, I can assure you that hardly any user pays attention to the 100-point score; that's just for the shelf tags. We focus on the 5-point scale on which we actually rate the beers.
  33. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,137) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    "Score" vs "Rating"? Seems to be splitting the hair quite fine. Chalk up one more reason, even though I didn't realize it existed, why I abandoned RB after only a few visits. Long before the acquisition. Just not believable.

    The predecessor of "Fake News", if one will.
  34. NickTheGreat

    NickTheGreat Crusader (767) Oct 28, 2010 Iowa
    Society Trader

    I don't like this either. I honestly haven't thought of Ratebeer in a while, and this cements that.

    I do like the Ratebeer shelf tags. Maybe BA can do that more?
  35. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    BeerAdvocate had a similar split between a 5-point rating scale and a 100-point score for most of its existence. I do think one of the advantages of RateBeer, when people in America actually used it, was that users typically were more critical about the beers they were reviewing and less caught up in hype compared to here.
    dukeandduke, FarmerTed and Bitterbill like this.
  36. HopBelT

    HopBelT Poo-Bah (1,622) Mar 18, 2014 Belgium
    Society Trader

    Soooo glad I never had an account there...!
    thesherrybomber likes this.
  37. BoldCars

    BoldCars Initiate (41) Apr 5, 2018 Maryland

    Very well noticed and put!!!
    Ranbot likes this.
  38. smcolw

    smcolw Poo-Bah (8,693) Jan 16, 2004 Massachusetts

    Of course, BA could sell the accumulated dated as another way to generate revenue.
  39. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,052) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    The new name should be Ambridge Canalytica. My wife was browsing around the other day and asked if I knew about RateBeer and I said that had heard of it.
  40. VoodooBear

    VoodooBear Crusader (790) Aug 25, 2012 Puerto Rico

    While ABI is indeed after the analytics RB gives them exclusive access to, it's just not a good look to have such a huge conglomerate with so much product out there owning a rating service/portal.

    We can make jokes about Bud Light and Budweiser getting awards and higher ratings now but there's a little bit of truth hidden in there as well. ABI owns a lot of "craft" breweries now and a pretty big portion of the market makes purchase decisions based on ratings.

    I'm not going to get in on some Illuminati conspiracy where ABI is now going to manipulate their brands to the top on RB now, but everything is possible. And immense multi-national corporations are gonna go what immense multi-national corporations always do. And 99% of the time it's not good things for consumers.

    I'm just glad I stopped participating in that community when the acquisition first started.
    meefmoff and JackHorzempa like this.