Surfline Takes $30 Million For New CEO

by The Editors on December 2, 2020

There was a time when we had a VIP, full access membership to Surfline.com. Players, right? The glory days. But you know what? We hardly ever used it. That’s because we’re rarely interested in exactly how good the waves are. When we want to surf, we go surfing. We check the waves on the free site, or go down to the beach and look. Then we grab a board that is inversely proportional to the size of the waves and paddle out. Pretty simple, really. All this is to say we’re the wrong people to be making any kind of business judgements on the news that Surfling/Wavetrak has just closed a $30 million investment from the entertainment focused The Chernin Group (TCG) and put a new CEO named Kyle Laughlin (previously of Amazon, The Walt Disney Company, Yahoo, etc. . .) into the driver’s seat.

“Surfline has established itself as one of the largest and most respected surf brands in the world through a decades-long commitment to serving its global community,” said Mike Kerns, Co-Founder and Partner, TCG. “At TCG, we achieve growth by partnering with passionate teams, engaged entrepreneurs who build out of love, and world class management. With Surfline, we have that combination in Jeff, Kyle and the entire team.”

Okay. Some smart guys with a boatload of entertainment industry experience and a few great investment wins (Twitter, Pandora, Tumblr) plus a mixed bag of webish odds and ends wants to dump $30 million on Surfline.com? What is their angle? It can’t be full-access subscription dollars. Do they see a big exit coming soon? If so, what is it? And why, would Mr. Laughlin be interested in a company with a slew of cameras pointed at beaches? If you know, please let us know.

For the rest of the official word, please follow the jump. Oh, and Jeff Berg is still playing an “active roll” as Executive Chairman. If you were worried.

Surfline\Wavetrak Inc Closes $30 Million Investment from TCG; Names Tech and Media Veteran Kyle Laughlin as CEO

Company to serve the world’s largest surf community with expanded AI and Machine Learning capabilities

Jeff Berg to remain active member of Surfline\Wavetrak Inc as Executive Chairman

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Surfline\Wavetrak Inc., the company behind surf forecasting powerhouse Surfline, announced today an investment of $30 million by TCG. The company also announced the appointment of Kyle Laughlin as CEO. Laughlin succeeds Jeff Berg, who will play an active role in the company as Executive Chairman.

Surf forecasting powerhouse Surfline, announced today an investment of $30 million by TCG.

“Surfline has established itself as one of the largest and most respected surf brands in the world through a decades-long commitment to serving its global community,” said Mike Kerns, Co-Founder and Partner, TCG. “At TCG, we achieve growth by partnering with passionate teams, engaged entrepreneurs who build out of love, and world class management. With Surfline, we have that combination in Jeff, Kyle and the entire team.”

Founded in 1985, Surfline provides those who work and play in the ocean with advanced tools, personalized insights and content to connect them to their passion. It supports the industry’s largest surf community, with more than 3 million users, and is powered by a 35-year data set; proprietary swell, wind and weather modeling; an expert team of surf forecasters, wave modelers and data scientists, and live HD cameras at 700+ locations worldwide. Its products leverage advanced AI and Machine Learning capabilities to offer intelligent weather and surf conditions, as well as award-winning editorial content.

“Our commitment to connecting surfers with their passion has fueled the growth of our business over the past 35 years, and today’s announcement is an important step in strengthening that promise,” said Jeff Berg, Executive Chairman of Surfline\Wavetrak. “Kyle brings leadership experience gained at the most successful companies in the world coupled with a true passion for surf and the ocean. I’m confident that he is the right person to drive the next phase of Surfline’s growth and evolution.”

Laughlin, who has assumed the role of CEO, joins Surfline from Amazon, where he oversaw connected hardware and software experiences for Amazon Echo and Alexa. Prior to Amazon, Laughlin held a Senior Vice President role at The Walt Disney Company, responsible for Disney and Lucasfilm mobile apps, connected hardware, and game experiences. In this role he oversaw development of the company’s next-generation consumer technology and digital experiences, including AR & VR, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things. Prior to Disney, Kyle was head of Sports & Games at Yahoo, and held senior roles at other tech companies and startups.

“I’ve had the great fortune to work with some incredible people throughout my career – but none as passionate or customer-centric as those at Surfline,” said Laughlin. “This company is in the enviable position of maintaining a massive engaged community, large subscriber base, and a portfolio of brands and products that our audience loves. I’m looking forward to partnering with Jeff to build on this foundation to expand the business and becoming more essential to surfers everywhere.”

Headquartered in Huntington Beach, CA – with offices in Nags Head, NC, Plymouth, UK, and Avalon Beach, AUS – Surfline\Wavetrak has become a critical and trusted resource for the hundreds of thousands of ocean-goers who use its sites, apps and products around the world every day. The company’s brand portfolio includes Surfline, Magicseaweed, Coastalwatch, Buoyweather and FishTrack.

About Surfline
Surfline\Wavetrak, Inc. provides live and predicted ocean wave, wind and weather information, editorial content, and consulting services to consumers, businesses, and government agencies worldwide. Headquartered in Huntington Beach, California, Surfline\Wavetrak Inc. empowers its customers to pursue peak surfing, marine, and fishing experiences through premium subscription services on both web and mobile platforms. In addition to paid subscriptions, the Company also offers a wide range of marketing and advertising services designed to reach and connect with users of Surfline, Magicseaweed, Coastalwatch, Buoyweather and FishTrack.

About TCG
Founded by Peter Chernin, Jesse Jacobs, and Mike Kerns, TCG, an affiliate of The Chernin Group, LLC, is an investment firm dedicated to building consumer businesses. The TCG team has a track record of working with world-class consumer brands in content, commerce, and consumer-tech, including Crunchyroll, Headspace, MeatEater, Exploding Kittens, Food52, The Action Network, and Barstool Sports.

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