April 2, 2014

Kelly Slater Leaves Quiksilver

In what was possibly the worst timed announcement in the history of the world, Kelly Slater posted on Facebook saying his time with Quiksilver had come to an end… The media was paralysed, unsure if this was an April Fools gag or for real, so it was buried for quite a number of hours until it was confirmed genuine.

Stab reports that Slater has been unhappy for a while now, especially on the earnings front where despite the fact that he is the greatest surfer alive, he isn’t earning like it, being out-moneyed by both Dane Reynolds and John John Florence. However the long post from Kelly (here) talks more about the next chapter and opportunity where he will be developing a brand with the Kering Group, who own Puma and Volcom among others. He says that the brand he’s developing…

… combines my love of clean living, responsibility and style. The inspiration for this brand comes from the people and cultures I encounter in my constant global travels and this is my opportunity to build something the way I have always wanted to.”

Building a brand is definitely a different skill set to being a pro surfer, and I’m struggling to think of a successful precedent for this move, but if anyone has the determination and competitive spirit to make it work, I think Kelly does.

Another interesting point from this move may be Slater’s rumoured ownership of Quik stock. A few years back, we asked Bob McKnight about the rumoured $10 million for 10 titles,  he responded by saying that Slater had amassed a fair number of shares over the years by taking all his bonus’ in stock instead of cash. A quick scan of the company filings show that Slater was granted three million shares in 2010 that vested in October last year and have a value today (2/4/14) of US$23,610,000. Not bad and that doesn’t include any grants previous to that point. I can’t see any sales of stock having happened so it’s likely that Slater will start a label which may compete against a company he has a significant ownership in.

Boardistan point out that the actual move isn’t really a big deal – it’s just a sponsorship deal. It doesn’t change anything about Slater and his dominance of the sport. But it is kinda like a star player trading teams – I’m not necessarily Quiksilver’s biggest fan, but I’m used to seeing the logo and Kelly’s mug in the same shot. Changing that certainly changes how I feel about them both – I just can’t decide if it’s good or bad.

In the end, I hope his new venture is a success and he gets both the media and monetary recognition he deserves… A good starting point might to be ensure that the media and marketing instincts in his new venture are better than the ones for exiting his current.

by Dave