Kelly Slater, arguably the greatest surfer ever, environmentalist and artificial wave pool impresario won many fans in China, when he hit back at an historically inaccurate troll last month with the defense, “Writing me out of the blue talking shit is such a crock of shit. Accusing me of being a racist? My girlfriend is Chinese. You’re on glue. You’re a miserable coward. And now you’re blocked.”
The well-meaning but slightly off commenter had suggested that U.S. intervention was a great global negative, overall, after Slater had suggested America should bomb many Chinese fishing vessels illegally trolling, as irony would have it, near the Galapagos Islands.
The two went back and forth before Slater’s coup de grace, which thrilled residents from Shanghai to Lhasa and maybe even planted a little hope in many Chinese female hearts. The King not being married and all.
Very great and similar to Richard M. Nixon’s Ping Pong Diplomacy.
Now, Korea is, of course, not China but it appears that Slater’s charm, his warmth, his profound cultural understanding is welcome there too as mega-group BTS just released a video featuring a Slater Designs surfboard.
Is it a Cymatic?
Watch here at the 27 second mark and you tell me!
Just in: World Surf League partners with analytics company Comscore to help with “explosive audience growth” as it dedicates itself to “changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing!”
There has not been a World Surf League Championship Tour event since Brazilian Italo Fereirra dispatched countryman Gabriel Medina to take the crown near the beginning of December, 2019. Not one heat, not one round, not one blow of the hooter over Joe Turpel’s muffled, “Oooooh. Exciting, Pottz.”
Professional surfing is not alone in its inability to host live action in the Covid-era but may be singular in its wild, unchecked success. While other leagues, confederations, associations have stumbled while trying to connect with audiences in a new way, our WSL has experienced “explosive growth” in not only audience numbers but also corporate partnerships and sponsorships.
A true unicorn but how?
Let us read about the new union with Comscore (Nasdaq: SCOR), a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms. And to the press release we go.
Comscore will provide the WSL with access to Comscore’s signature Media Ratings solutions, including Comscore Video Metrix® in the United States, Australia and Brazil, and Media Metrix® Multi-Platform in the U.S., to better understand audience behavior and media consumption across desktop and mobile devices.
This deal, which comes as the WSL is seeing explosive audience growth and in partnerships and sponsorships, signals the power of the sport of surfing. The World Surf League is dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.
Oh yeah. I sometimes underestimate the “power of the sport of surfing” and short-change the League’s dedication to “changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.”
And, the WSL valued, according to court docs in 2016, at $US600 million!
A little history.
The ASP was acquired in 2013 by Zosea Media, a startup owned by Paul Speaker and Terrance Hardy.
Speaker and Hardy were the original architects of the WSL we so love today, becoming controlling owners of the new joint venue along “with the billionaire who invested all $25 million of its capitalization.”
I assume you can guess who this mysterious “billionaire” might be.
After the merger, the new venture was valued at $600 million, allegedly resulting in Zosea’s 50% share tripling from $100 million to $300 million.
It’s also alleged that after the acquisition of KSWC, “the billionaire investor would have invested approximately $50 million into the combined company, and it was natural that he expected Zosea to relinquish its voting control over the combined venture.”
In 2016, Paul Speaker was terminated as the CEO of the WSL, with approval of Hardy and Zosea chairman Jonathan Miller. Speaker allegedly negotiated an exit deal that included selling 60% of his Zosea stake back to Zosea, which Zosea sold back to the billionaire, effectively reducing its ownership share.
Zosea then paid out $12 million to Paul Speaker.
According to a complaint filed in 2017 by the Barnes Firm, a personal injury law firm, a year before the 2016 acquisition of KSWC, Michael Barnes, the owner of the Barnes Firm, and two other persons had been admitted as small equity owners of Zosea in 2015 in return for providing legal services.
Barnes alleged that the small equity owners posed a significant problem to Zosea, as they could have upset the new merger deal or the $12 million buyout.
Barnes also claimed that he had contractual rights to be bought out “upon a change of control of Zosea . . . and also the right to tag-along in exit sales.”
Hardy, Miller, and Speaker allegedly circumvented the minority owners’ right to exit “at that $600 million combined value” and thus circumvented paying “at least $5 million to the ZoSea minority holders.”
According to Barnes, Zosea concealed the change of ownership and Speaker’s exit deal from the minority owners.
In 2017, Barnes initiated arbitration against Zosea, which allegedly prompted them to claim “that Barnes was not entitled to any documents because of some nebulous ‘malpractice’ and ‘conflict’ by Barnes.”
The alleged malpractice was attributed to Barnes having become a member of Zosea.
In response, Barnes brought suit in California state court.
Zosea, Hardy, Speaker, and Miller filed a cross complaint against Barnes in January 2018, alleging breaches of ethical duty, fiduciary duty, and legal malpractice. They alleged that after closing the deal, Barnes “conditioned the release of the deal documents and his future legal work on obtaining a larger percentage interest in Zosea, effectively holding the deal hostage.”
They also claimed that after the deal was closed, they had to obtain additional counsel to rectify Barnes’ errors.
Zosea sought to rescind the issuance of Barnes’ ownership and take the case to arbitration.
The parties agreed to confidential arbitration in April 2018, so much of the litigation is not public.
On August 19, 2020 the parties settled for an unknown amount.
Best surf journalist in biz invited to new Surf Lakes for press day, dispenses with typical praise and breaks scathing story of multiple failures, dangerous conditions: “We are asked to leave the water immediately!”
I will now tell you a secret, surf journalism is not an honest profession and surf journalists are not honest professionals. Invite one anywhere, third class, feed hot dogs and tap water for meals, provide shared accommodation with underpaid day laborers and you will receive, in return, the most glowing review of whichever hotel, boat, camp is being junketed.
So starving for recognition, so famished for trinkets, handouts from those who tug the levers of surf power is he (or Jen See) that flowery praise is the only thing that flows.
It was with much shock, then, turning to pride, that I read Tim Baker’s bold, scathing description of new wave technology Surf Lakes as it opened for the press.
Baker, you certainly know, is considered by most to be the best surf journalist in the biz, an environmentalist of some note, and began the piece in typically ebullient fashion:
It all began with the proverbial pebble dropped in a pond.
Eight years ago, Aaron Trevis was skipping rocks with his kids when he threw a larger rock and watched the ripples radiate out from it and tiny waves peel along the bank of the pond, like countless others have before him.
Before deftly breaking out the knives:
They are producing sets of waves every six minutes, but there are frequent delays while they tinker with the machinery or attend to glitches in the system. When a crack in the lake’s cement floor begins turning the water from an aqua blue to a muddy brown we are encouraged to help lug rocks from an on-site quarry into a trailer to help plug the cracks.
And delivering a coup de grace:
By the end of the second day, it appears we may have pushed the Surf Lakes prototype to its limits. There’s a lengthy delay in the afternoon to attend to some mechanical issue, and when we eventually resume, after only a couple of sets, Occy sounds the alarm that something’s not quite right. The large concrete tower that the air compressor sits on top of looks dangerously off kilter. The force of the swells has knocked it off its footings and we are asked to clear the water immediately.
It is doubtful that Baker will be invited anywhere for a long time but fans of truth and honesty rejoice this morning for a brave surf journalist has finally been found.