ZX Ventures Fully Acquires RateBeer

ZX Ventures, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s venture capital arm, has acquired the remaining portion of beer ratings website RateBeer.com that it did not already own.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced, but a spokesperson for ZX Ventures said the transaction had closed.

ZX Venture’s full purchase of RateBeer comes after an initial investment was made in October 2016 and disclosed eight months ago.

According to a ZX Ventures spokesperson, RateBeer will continue to “operate as an independent entity,” and its “rating system will remain unchanged.”

In a statement, ZX Ventures said its acquisition of RateBeer will lead to the expansion of the brand into “new areas,” such as “an affiliate marketplace pilot program in Australia” and further upgrades to the platform’s user experience.

“We enthusiastically support RateBeer’s mission to provide independent, unbiased, consumer-driven information about beer and breweries,” the company said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have a partner that shares our passion for helping consumers appreciate great beer.”

In a statement posted to the RateBeer.com forum this morning, co-founder Joe Tucker wrote that consumers wouldn’t see “day-to-day” changes to their experience on the site. He added that he would continue to work for RateBeer as its global community manager.

Speaking to Brewbound, Tucker said ZX’s initial investment allowed RateBeer to update its website, modernize the site’s code structure and upgrade its servers and web hosts. That first investment also fueled the development of an in-house mobile app. Meanwhile, the additional investment will help RateBeer expand with, the development of an e-commerce platform in Australia.

“It’s something we want to fully develop in Australia, and it will certainly have application elsewhere,” Tucker said.

Although Tucker is not leaving the company, RateBeer’s business operations are being overseen by Douglas Mitchell.

According to Tucker, the additional manpower has freed him up to focus on the RateBeer community as well as serving as the public face of the brand.

The initial round of investment led to backlash from RateBeer users as well as well-known craft brewers such as Dogfish Head and Karl Strauss, among others, who questioned the unbiased nature of the site and asked for their ratings to be removed..

According to Tucker, RateBeer lost “a few” users after the initial round of investment from ZX Ventures. However, the site “gained about ten times more that same week.” In fact, he said the site set a record for the number of ratings and the number of beers added to the site.

“We’re certainly still getting that volume of users on the site and we’re getting the data,” he said. “We’ve created this culture that’s still flourishing.”

Tucker said he “welcomes” the tension that the transaction causes, and the negative responses are “a small speed bump on getting where we need to go.”

“It certainly shows how passionate people are, what their concerns are,” he said. “They kind of get down to what really worries them, and I’m able to talk about that with them and the team”

News of the investment also comes a week after RateBeer announced its annual list of the “Top 100 Brewers,” which was topped by Vermont’s Hill Farmstead.

The rest of the top 10, in descending order, included Russian River Brewing, Trillium Brewing Company, Cigar City, Tree House Brewing, AleSmith, Toppling Goliath, Three Floyds, New Glarus and Side Project.

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