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Chief Instigator Earp Explains What Disruption Means at ABI and Its Zx Ventures Unit

BBI’s sibling publication, Insights Express, which focuses on beer sector, recently got rare opportunity to talk to extremely active behind-scenes dealmaker: Anheuser-Busch InBev’s chief disruptive growth officer, Pedro Earp.  As reported here before, ABI's Zx Ventures has been making accelerating array of intriguing and controversial investments, from Owl’s Brew tea-based mixers and GoLive probiotic bevs on NA side to Northern Brewer homebrew supplier, Kombrewcha low-alc kombucha and Rate Beer site.  Pedro and his team basically are tasked with searching out what's next and investing in it in early stages.  Zx also is responsible for all of ABI's international craft deals (in Italy, China, UK, etc) and for ABI's intl brewpubs. With all its int’l craft deals, including brewpub expansions of Goose Island, Zx works “very closely” with US unit the High End and there's “absolutely” cross pollination. Indeed, key learnings familiar: keeping founder on board is "must have" that can "make or break the success of the investment," Pedro said.  Finding co with "ability to create best [new] products" also key.  Recent investment in beer rating site Rate Beer created a storm of criticism, partly because it wasn't disclosed for many months.  Tho private equity often doesn't disclose minority investments, "we should have anticipated the controversy" and disclosed stake sooner, Earp said. Through its many investments, most of them small for a co of ABI's scale, it's hoping to find something that "can be massive in the future," said Pedro.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2017
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue #: 82
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