Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Biggest Beer Run Ever

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

If you’ve got an extra $300 million lying around and are interested in owning your own beer company, there’s no need for you to get in on this action. Given the IRS has been unable to find a buyer for the Pabst Brewing Company since it went up for sale in 2000 however, I figure none of us have that kind of discretionary dough or we simply have no desire to own our own beer company outright. Although some of us may dream of being soaked in beer, we’d have no idea how, let alone the initiative, to operate an actual brewing company. But for anyone that’s ever scrounged in the their pockets for enough loose change to buy one more cold one, or collected money at a gathering of friends to make a late night beer run, today may be your lucky day. For as little as the price of a bottle of beer, you could be part “owner” of a beer company.

BuyABeerCompany.com presents the average Joe Six Pack with a somewhat unique opportunity. The 165-year-old Pabst Brewing Co., the third-largest beer company in the US (going by 2008 sales), is up for sale for a mere $300 million. Hollywood-based Forza Migliozzi and New York's The Ad Store have formed a venture to ask (legal-age) fans of Pabst's 25 brands to pledge between $5 and $250,000 each towards acquisition of the company. Money will only be accepted if the full purchase amount is reached, at which point all contributors will get "a crowdsourced certificate of ownership as well as enough beer to match their pledge".

The only somewhat equivalent endeavor to the BuyABeerCompany initiative that comes readily to mind is the formation and initial stock sale for what would become The Green Bay Packers Corporation, owners of the Green Bay Packers football team. After a somewhat tumultuous start, that included what looked like an inevitable bankruptcy, the Green Bay Packers - with the help of A. B. Turnbull, publisher of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, grocery man Lee Joannes, attorney Gerald Clifford, and Dr. W. Webber Kelly - became essentially what might be considered the first “crowdsourced” organization. In August 1923, these local Green Bay merchants raised $5,000 by selling 1,000 shares for $5 apiece, with a stipulation that the purchaser also had to buy at least six season tickets.

Since this 1923 meeting, the Green Bay Packers have had three additional stock sales, the most recent of which in 1997 raised tens of millions of dollars. Currently a total of 4,750,937 shares are owned by 112,120 stockholders – none of whom receives any dividend on the initial investment.

The size and scope of the BuyABeerCompany crowdsourcing venture monetarily dwarfs the humble beginnings of the Green Bay Packers. And because there’s no “local” community to rally around, it will be interesting to see whether enough funds can be secured. This may in fact simply turn out to be one big public relations opportunity for the ad agencies involved. Thus far it appears over $18 million has been pledged.

If you’ve been wondering however what to get your friend “who has everything” for Christmas, perhaps consider some Pabst. Or maybe this is simply your chance to share a beer (company) with millions of your closest friends. Crowdsourcing can be innovative. And certainly BuyABeerCompany is the most ambitious crowdsourcing endeavor I’ve ever seen.

1 comment:

C. Engdahl said...

In the last 24 hours another two million dollars has been pledged. Now over $20M in pledges.

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