Industry News

Ratebeer Sold Minority Stake to AB InBev Subsidiary, ZX Ventures

RateBeer Founder, Joe Tucker, explains why he sold the stake.

Ratebeer Sold Minority Stake to AB InBev Subsidiary, ZX Ventures

Reports have emerged that RateBeer sold a minority stake to AB InBev’s growth division, ZX Ventures, in late 2016. The announcement came this week after being finalized in October, but was kept silent to both the public and RateBeer stakeholders. The reason why? The partners wanted “points on the board”, or proof that the partnership had value.

“It’s really insight. It’s insights into consumer trends. It’s a better understanding of the beer consumer, and the beer markets globally. That’s really going to help us kind of keep our finger on the pulse.”

– Samantha Roth, ZX Spokesperson

Interestingly, the news was first broken by Good Beer Hunting, which itself is financially linked to ZX Ventures, begging the question of whether the news emerged organically or was ‘planted’, and whether the site will remain impartial in its beer ratings.


Below is the official announcement from RateBeer founder Joe Tucker.

Dear Friends,

Today, my wife Jen and I are feeling great hope for the RateBeer community I’ve been carefully stewarding for more than a decade and a half. With the contributions of so many great people around the globe, our tiny company has helped change the world of beer through our humble and diligent commitment to serving the whole world beer community. We’re proud of our accomplishments, to have helped so many small breweries and beer retailers receive the spotlight they deserved and are so grateful for all the wonderful people, places and experiences that tending the site over these many years has provided us.

Today we’re announcing that ZX Ventures has purchased a minority investment in RateBeer. The focus of the agreement was on maintaining RateBeer’s value as an unbiased beer authority, retaining our operational independence, informing a whole new group of global consumers and keeping them excited about the beer.

Many people are probably surprised that our modest little company would be of interest to ZX Ventures, AB InBev’s tech-friendly growth division. We were definitely surprised too. There are few suitable companions for a very unique company like ours, a small niche tech-driven online publisher, and far fewer still in a position to not only buy in but also expand our scope and vision.

One of the greatest challenges I’ve had in choosing this magical life for myself as a developer of an online community has been the monstrous amount of work I’d signed on to, and that the site required, day and night, every day of the year. As the site’s only full time employee, this has meant I’ve always been on call. I love RateBeer dearly and I love my work, but it’s been really nice not staying up all night working on servers! It’s with relief and gratitude that the site has finally received the resources and infrastructure it needs to move forward and develop for the coming technical challenges and opportunities. I’ve never been more excited about RateBeer’s future and our ability to achieve new heights.

Most everyone who is close to the site and involved our community knows that we’ve tried to address our resource issues issues in a number of creative ways over the years. We’ve also looked at a variety of potential partners and found ZX was our best choice. Their comfort with technology, existing tech resources, beer loving culture, enthusiasm and respect for the community, an understanding of varied beer cultures globally, the stability of their company and dedication to preserving our independence made ZX the very best fit. I know this is surprising to many out there, but I’m confident I made the best possible decision.

I’ve been working with our expanded team on a daily basis since October. What we’ve found on the other side is a multicultural company that cares deeply about their own employees, cares about the local communities they invest in developing and is taking significant steps to better understand and foster local beer. It’s a great small team in a big company.

ZX Ventures has the utmost respect for the integrity of the data and the unbiased service we offer to the entire community and industry. It’s been a vital part of the plan since day one and we continue to operate as we always have, with myself as manager, and overseen by the watchful and critical eye of our volunteer worldwide administrators, external sales and offering equal opportunity to all advertisers and other customers.

Additionally, RateBeer Best became the premier worldwide international beer awards program and our festival one of the best in the world largely based on the simple and inviolable integrity of our computational methods and reliance on crowd-sourced reviews. This obviously won’t and cannot change, and thankfully we have loud opinionated critics in RateBeer’s ranks, and a data transparency initiative to ensure it never does. We’ve seen many positive examples for best managing an investor relationship and we’ve applied our learning.

Life at RateBeer will continue as it has. I’ll continue to work writing code, crunching numbers, answering questions, working with our administrators, reaching out to talk to people in the community and planning new features.

Thanks again for all your generosity, care, good times, support, love and faithfulness. To you all I’ll be raising a beer.

Much love,

Joe Tucker


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