VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Talks that boats.com CEO and co-founder Paul Rabe described as “off and on” recently came to fruition and were made public yesterday when Trader Publishing Co. issued a press release saying it had acquired boats.com and YachtWorld.com.
With the acquisition, Trader Publishing becomes the clear marine industry leader among consumer dot-coms. Between its BoatTraderOnline.com site and the two newly acquired sites, it now dominates the industry in terms of consumer traffic.
In a interview with Boating Industry this morning, Rabe said his ongoing efforts to find a buyer for boats.com were intensified this spring when his company hired an investment banking firm to expedite the process.
“Obviously when you are a venture capital startup, the next day the company is for sale,” Rabe said. “I was intimately involved [with the sale] being CEO and a board member. I think it brought a good price. Trader Publishing was obviously the highest bidder. We’ve been in talks with them for some time.”
Rabe thinks there may be some further consolidation within the sector, but he also anticipates the entrance of “some potential newcomers to the scene.”
When asked if he thought his sale was good for the industry, Rabe paused for a moment, then replied, “No comment.”
Rabe to move on
While neither party revealed the specific terms of the sale, Rabe did say he would not be staying on in any capacity with his former company.
“I was offered employment but I was not in agreement with [Trader Publishing’s] policies and procedures, so I’m not associated with the company any further,” Rabe said. “I am looking at all my options, including staying in the Internet space.”
Rabe said it would be his preference to remain in the marine industry. He believes the Internet sector of the industry is doing well and will continue growing.
“That’s why I’m interested in staying in the area,” Rabe said. “I’m aggressively pursuing alternatives.”
For its part, Trader Publishing said it was pleased with its acquisition.
“Acquiring these successful on-line products and service businesses gives us a tremendous opportunity to increase the value we provide to the professional marine community,” said Nick Petsos, general manager of TraderOnline.com. “In keeping with Trader business practices, there will be no disruption in operations or changes in service to boats.com and YachtWorld.com; the properties will continue to operate with autonomy and serve the needs of their customers who rely on them.”
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-- Jon Mohr