Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2000 10:10:50 -0500 Subject: Boats.com Announcement boats.com Invites You to Join Its Conference Call on the Web Announcing Precedent-Setting Industry Endorsements From NMMA and MRAA Boating Associations Unite Behind boats.com Site to Create Industry-Wide E-Commerce Platform SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 4 // -- On August 8, 2000, boats.com, the premier online hub for the boating community and marine industry, will announce details of the endorsements from the world's two top marine industry associations -- representing more than 80 percent of boat manufacturing and retailing business -- as their member's premier Internet boating marketplace. Representatives from boats.com, the National Marine Manufacturers of America (NMMA) and the Marine Retailer's Association of America (MRAA) will discuss the impact of the agreements with press and analysts via a conference call and webcast. A question and answer session will be held immediately following the announcement. Who: Thom Dammrich, president, National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Phil Keeter, president, Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA) Stu Johnstone, chief strategy officer and co-founder, boats.com Paul Rabe, president, chief operating officer and co-founder, boats.com What: boats.com, NMMA and MRAA endorsement announcement When: August 8, 2000, 10:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time/1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Where: http://www.videonewswire.com/BOATS.COM(APPLIED/080800/ How: Live over the Internet -- Simply log on to the web at the address above Contact: For conference call or webcast information, contact Ken Grimes of boats.com, 415-947-5015, or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Matt Krebsbach, Applied Communications, 415-365-0222, ext.378, or email@example.com, for boats.com. About boats.com Boats.com is building the premier online hub for the boating community and the marine industry. The boats.com site will enable boat users, manufacturers and resellers -- including yacht brokers, boat dealers, marinas, boatyards, and other marine service businesses -- to participate in a thriving online marketplace, opening up new commercial opportunities for the industry while enhancing the consumer's boating experience. The boats.com management team is made up of boating and Web/Internet business veterans, whose depth and breadth of experience has enabled boats.com to build and leverage strong strategic partnerships in the brief time since the company's inception. Founded in 1999, boats.com is a private, venture capital funded business located at Pier 38, The Embarcadero, in San Francisco. If you are unable to participate during the live webcast, the call will be archived on the Web site www.boats.com. The call will also be archived at www.prnewswire.com. Ken Grimes boats.com Pier 38 The Embarcadero San Francisco, CA 94107 firstname.lastname@example.org 415.947.5015 415.356.5417 fax
BOATS.COM ENDORSED AS EXCLUSIVE BOATING MARKETPLACE
Press Release 8 Aug 2000
The Internet offers the $100 billion global marine industry an opportunity to streamline fragmented demand chains, make marine commerce more efficient, and ultimately improve the consumer experience. According to 1999 NMMA data, the U.S. marine market alone is enormous, with more than 77 million active boaters who spend more than $23 billion annually on boats, engines and marine products. While over 60 percent of these boating enthusiasts have Internet access, there are more than 18,000 sales and service businesses, many of which have not yet fully leveraged the Internet as a channel.
The NMMA, with roots dating back to 1904, and the MRAA, which was created more than 30 years ago, are working together to unite the marine industry and grow the sport of boating. The Internet offers a unique and valuable opportunity to accomplish both of these goals.
"Over several months, we have examined many marine Internet businesses to determine how they could best serve our members and help grow the boating industry," said Thom Dammrich, president, NMMA. "Boats.com exceeded all of our criteria for evaluation - industry knowledge, sound plans, a sustainable business model - and most importantly, they shared a common vision of partnership with our members and their existing distribution channels. Through this partnership, we can make the boating industry a better place for businesses and consumers."
As part of today's agreements:
"Along with the NMMA, we developed the marine industry's Internet Value Statement to set guidelines as we looked for a partner with similar ideals, a focused vision and a strong and viable business plan," said Phil Keeter, president, MRAA. "Boats.com will give our industry the solutions we need. It will give our members the opportunity to compete through e-commerce, and help educate consumers with better, faster information that shortens their purchase cycle."
"By working with both the marine manufacturers and marine retailers, we can ensure that it is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved - manufacturers, retailers and most importantly consumers," said Stuart Johnstone, chief strategy officer and co-founder, boats.com. "We are creating an industry-wide marketplace where the boating consumers will quickly and easily find anything they need and where the industry will have access to today's most sophisticated and customer-friendly technology."
Boats.com will be launching the industry-wide marketplace later this summer.
About the MRAA
About the NMMA
The boats.com management team is made up of boating and Web/Internet business veterans, whose depth and breadth of experience has enabled boats.com to build and leverage strong strategic partnerships in the brief time since the company's inception. Founded in 1999, boats.com is a private, venture capital funded business located at Pier 38, The Embarcadero, in San Francisco.
Wall Street Journal 8 Aug. 2000 By Rebecca Buckman
The connection between boats.com and the NMMA "is a major conflict of interest," said Robert Alpert, chairman of Land'n'Sea Corp., which runs a Web site called iWaterways.com, a potential competitor to boats.com. The NMMA "is supposed to be an association, not a commercial enterprise," he said, adding, "They cannot possibly represent the industry fairly in that conflict position."
Boats.com's method of selling boats "is a referral model, and it's open to all comers," said Duncan Thomas, chief executive of Los Angeles-based Web site iicaptain.com, which sells marine supplies. "If that's the case," he said, "you could argue it's a neutral site. But then again, there are other sites out there as well, and they're just as neutral. So why would an industry organization back one over the other one?"
The NMMA says its relationship with boats.com shouldn't disadvantage anyone, since dealers listing vessels for sale on boats.com are free to offer their products on other Web sites.
"We [felt] we would be more effective in achieving our objective, which is to grow boating, if we concentrated our efforts behind a single [site]," said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. Ultimately, the group anointed boats.com because "their whole business model was the most industry-friendly, [and the company had] significant resources and just really high-quality people."
Still, boat manufacturer Brunswick Corp. -- which makes the popular Maxum and Bayliner vessel lines -- is a significant financial backer of boats.com, according to people familiar with the matter. That could raise new questions about boats.com's ability to be an objective purveyor of boat information. Boats.com is now building an extensive database related to fishing vessels, sailboats and power boats that it hopes shoppers will consult before they try to find one to buy, says Rolando Esteverena, the company's CEO.
Mr. Esteverena said he couldn't confirm or deny Brunswick's backing; a spokeswoman for Brunswick, based in Lake Forest, Ill., referred questions to Vice President Kathryn Chieger, who couldn't be reached for comment. But boats.com did say when it announced its most recent round of funding that other, unnamed "marine, financial and technology businesses" had invested.
Indeed, the endorsement from the NMMA, which already has been announced internally to association members, helped snare boats.com its $21 million second round of venture funding, led by Mayfield Fund and Trident Capital.
From the above releases and comments, NMMA and MRAA own a piece of the action and it is rumored that Brunswick does as well. In the short run, its going to be tough to raise funds to support competitive efforts against them, but right now its tough to raise funds for about any ecommerce effort. Their ability to raise $21 million in this environment is probably a sign Brunswick is involved.
The NMMA is strongly opposed to circumventing existing dealer channels. This alliance is partially an effort to support those concepts. They recently published a set of rules/standards for dot.coms in the industry. Since they cannot enforce them, they are basically volunteer industry standards. One rule includes this sentence, "No marine manufacturer should have an ownership interest at a level that would allow it to control a portal, as this would violate the level playing field concept." This is very interesting, considering Brunswick may own a portion of Boats.Com
We are not trying to throw rocks at the NMMA (especially since we have not yet received our Boating Week Press Pass), but think a large number of industry professionals will agree, the NMMA has done a less than stellar job over the last decade. New leadership and a greater emphasis on end users may improve their performance rating, but they still have a long way to go to overcome past shortcomings.
If the NMMA has been struggling at what they are supposed to be doing, it doesn't seem like a great time to take on another project. Especially not a controversial one in an area they have not done too well in themselves.
In support of the NMMA, it has to be difficult to make everybody happy in a group of this size, especially in a cyclical market with a huge discrepancy in the size of firms they represent (Brunswick represents a significant portion of total sales by all members). We do salute them for finally recognizing the major impact the internet is having on this industry and for taking some actions regarding them. We just think some other actions may have been more appropriate and they could have been taken a long time ago.
Brunswick has always seemed like a logical candidate to attempt to establish a major B2B & B2C presence in the industry, but they have been very slow to adopt the net. New leadership may change that. If they are involved in this effort, we can anticipate many non-Brunswick firms will not be pleased.
It has been my experience that small groups not interfered with by corporate structure create the most innovative and effective web sites. Most groups that move on the large financial backing, such as this one, spend most of the money on promoting themselves and little on content. This would open the door to significant competition.
We strongly encourage keeping an eye on the automotive industry. Historically marketing programs and methods move across to the boating industry. Other industries to watch are motorcycles, snowmobiles, recreational vehicles, and ATV's. Boating is not the only industry facing e-commerce challenges and opportunities at this time. Much can be learned, anticipated and possibly applied from these parallel industries.
Boats.Com sounds like a capable group. Their Yachtworld.Com site appears well constructed and already contains a database of over 30,000 boats for sale. If you glance at their help wanted list on the boats.com web site it looks like they are looking for everybody and a kitchen sink. Seems like they might have tried to staff up a bit more by now. They should certainly be financially sound for a while. They recently received a great inflow of cash ($21 million), substantially due to this alliance.
A few years ago our small town formed an alliance with an internet provider. They chose the soundest looking possibility at that time (a substantial provider in a nearby city willing to setup local dialup modems). Our small local providers were angry at first, but have since taken over a great deal of the business by providing better service. Similarly, this alliance may delay the long term evolution of marine e-commerce, but it will still occur. The strong will survive, the weak will consolidate or die. We suspect a lot of funerals from this announcement. But, change brings opportunity and free enterprise will eventually sort out the current and future contenders.
The market will dictate who becomes the leader in boating e-commerce. Boats.Com has certainly scored a major victory with this agreement, but its a long ways from not even having a portal, to a dominant market position.
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