Swell.com In Negotiations To Buy Surfline

Just days after the news broke that swell.com, an Internet start up based in San Francisco, had hiredthree editors from Surfer Magazine, comes another significantdevelopment in this rapidly developing dot.com drama.

It appears negotiations are well underway for swell.comto purchase Surfline, a leader in the surf forecastingbusiness that was pioneered by meteorological guru SeanCollins in 1995. According to Surfline Marketing DirectorDavid Gilovich, “There are certain restrictions on whatwe can talk about, but I can say that we’re having meaningfuldiscussions with them swell.com.”

Gilovich, who says completion of the deal is stillpending, does predict that a final decision will bemade by the end of this month.

“There have been a great number of suitors in thepast few months, but now we are negotiating exclusivelywith one,” says Gilovich, who laughs that during thistime he’s often felt as if Surfline was, “The cutestgirl at the dance.”

He says the decision to sell was predicated on theneed to take Surfline to the next level. “We’ve beenat this since 1995, plugging away, adding surf camsall over the world. Now we have almost a million visitsa month. The idea was to align ourselves with someonewho could create something new for our customers.”

So if the deal goes through, will Surfline radicallychange the type of content it provides? “I wouldn’tsay radically change,” says Gilovich, “I would say radicallyaugment.”

When it was speculated that a Surfline/swell.com partnershipcould offer forecasting of swells, live coverage ofthose swells at choice spots around the globe, e-commerce,and even the ability for the average surfer to booka trip on one of these trips, Gilovich replied, “Itcould be all that and more.”

Swell.com would certainly benefit from Surfline’s Webtraffic. However, since more of Surfline’s revenue isstill generated by telephone forecasts than its Website, it will be interesting to follow how Surfline’sbusiness model is changed by any potential purchase.However, Gilovich says the revenue from the Web siteis quickly catching up to that from the phone service.

Subscribers currently pay ten dollars a month for 30minutes worth of 1-800-Surfline swell forecasts.

The addition of Sean Collins and David Gilovich wouldseem to further strengthen the staff at Swell.com, whichincludes former Surfer editors Steve Hawk and Evan Slater,Surfer’s Group Publisher Doug Palladini, and AssociateEditor Matt Walker.

TransWorld SURF Business will continue to follow thisstory as it develops.