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US-based Surfline buy Australia’s Coastalwatch

1 August 19

From Swellnet, August 1: Overnight, another one of the surfing world's open secrets was made official: Surfline has bought Australian surfcam website Coastalwatch.

American industry website Shop Eat Surf announced Surfline had acquired Coastalwatch from Three Crowns Media. The purchase comes almost two years after US-based Surfline acquired European forecasting site Magic Seaweed from SurfStitch.

The sale ends a tumultuous few years for Coastalwatch. In September 2017, Coastalwatch's surf reporters were retrenched, with most of the remaining staff following in June 2018. 

Coastalwatch were also heavily involved in the SurfStitch affair.

In December 2015, Three Crowns Media signed a contract for Coastalwatch to perpetually license content from SurfStitch-owned companies Garage Entertainment, Magic Seaweed and Stab Magazine, for $20.3 million. The deal turned sour after SurfStitch CEO Justin Cameron quit, its share price tumbled and new management cancelled the contract.

In November 2016 Coastalwatch owner, Sydney-based investment banker Kim Sundell, told the Australian Financial Review he'd been expecting to sell his businesses - including Coastalwatch and Surfing World - in December 2015 for $10m.

In the same story, the Australian Financial Review reported that Sundell had made a bid to buy SurfStitch for $55 million. That preceeded an increasingly hostile exchange between Sundell and SurfStitch that ended with the threat of legal action and the revelation that Justin Cameron's initial contract with Three Crowns Media was under investigation by ASIC.

Founded in 1998 by Chris Lane, Coastalwatch was bought in 2001 by Sundell who, despite being a non-surfer, built a small action sports media empire, including Surfing World and Mountainwatch plus Transmoto, Chill Factor and Transfer magazines.

As the dust from the SurfStitch stoush settled, Sundell shopped around for a buyer of Coastalwatch, approaching Swellnet and many other smaller surf companies, before it ended up in Surfline's hands.

In the Shop Eat Surf article, Surfline CEO Jeff Berg said the unification of Surfline, Magic Seaweed, and now Coastalwatch will "enable more aggressive investment in product development".





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