Monday, January 25, 2010

DIRECTORS OF THE BOARD – The Big Corporations That Control Snowboarding

Shaun White has his own private halfpipe, DC have their Mountain Lab and Illicit has our very own private resort and ice palace. 
Photographic proof that we do. Wear it corporates.
White House : DC Mountain : The Glorious Kingdom of Illicit

This week Illicit has a crack at the very topical art of Infographics and we take a look at which faceless corporations lie behind the snowboard brand names that we all know and love.

The Big Corporations That Run Snowboarding Map

The idea for this came from the forum on Yobeat and some lad called Andrew Nagel, aka ‘GnarBuckets who reposted a post from back in 2006 on Snowboard Mag’s site, by a very angry man who went by the name of ‘The Public Advisor’. The Public Advisor lad posted quite often at that time about the corporations behind the brands and he really was not a happy bunny. He didn’t like any company that was any bigger than just some punter in a garage, good news for illicit then because he could be a fan of ours. Unfortunately it seems that The, which I assume is his Christian name, disappeared from the Interweb recently, probably due to becoming so incensed by capitalism that he combusted.

Anyway this article answers GnarBuckets question I was wondering if any one could update it and add other companies that are now in snowboarding and what not and just every one give there 2 cents on this.”

And to answer the first part of Mr Buckets question here is something we just drew up and are going to call a ‘Piste Map’, showing which corporations own the brands in 2010.
It’s worth taking a look at the map in full size version which you can do by clicking on the picture. In our shiny new Flickr account you can also experience a version with interactive brand names.

About the Map:

  • The piste directions show the corporate structure and how the brands are linked.
  • The different piste colours indicate the market cap of each corporation. The market cap (Market Capitalisation) is the size of a business based on the value of all their shares.
  • The vertical location of the main corporation icons also roughly represents the market cap of each corporation. The vertical location of all other icons is primarily determined by where they looked nice.
  • I only include brands and companies that were roughly related, or of interest to snowboarding. Some of these corporations have a huge amount of other businesses that have nothing to do with our sport. (There’s more interesting facts about the corporations later)
  • I just learned how to draw curvy arrows in Photoshop

Interesting Things:

  • Burton are the most talked about conglomerate in snowboarding but they really don’t look out of place when you put them in the context of these other companies. They probably squeeze in somewhere pretty average in terms of size and number of brands. 
  • Since 2006 there has been a continued trend for larger and larger companies to acquire snowboard businesses.
  • These diverse corporate takeovers now mean that the map covers the main brands behind a number of other sports outside of snowboarding such as skiing, skateboarding and surfing.
  • Illicit Snowboarding’s ice palace features its very own piste which remains rideable throughout the year. The cooling system required for this great feat of engineering has produced such a high levels of carbon emissions that the season of the resort itself has been reduced by over a month.

Let’s follow the money…

Market Capitalisation of the Big Corporations That Run Snowboarding Chart
Click on the picture to see the larger version, or visit Flickr for the interactive version

Interesting Things:

  • For a country with only a little snow themselves Australia owns two of the top four corporations on the list. Here’s the count…US (7), Australia (2), Italy (1), Finland (1), Hong Kong (1)
  • Private companies do not publicize there earnings so Burton & Shriro can not be compared without me making a guess. Feel free to have a go yourselves.
  • Shriro really is a strange one, they are based in Hong Kong and pretty much run all kinds of businesses with Flow really being the odd one out. When you see a brand that out of line with the rest of the company it’s often not long before it is split off and sold to someone else.
  • Orange 21 / Spy is an example of a single brand company with visible financial information. I dropped it in the mix to give an idea of the scale of some of the other companies.

Some Interesting Facts on the Big Corporations

  • Macquarie, primarily an investment bank and Jarden, mostly known for its kitchen products, purchased the Rossignol Group in 2008. Together they formed a holding company called Chartreuse & Mont Blanc with Macquarie as the majority owner and bought the group from Quiksilver for an eventual $57million. Quiksilver made a huge loss in their time running the Rossignol Group which they originally purchased just 3 years earlier for a hefty $345million.
  • Jarden had previously acquired the particular focus of The Public Advisor’s vitriol, K2 Sports for $1.2billion in 2007.
  • VF Corporation started life in 1899 as the Reading Glove & Mitten Manufacturing Company. They have since shortened their name considerably to save printing costs.
  • Amer Sports started off as a tobacco company before quitting the habit and taking up sports. They acquired Salomon from Adidas for €485million in 2005
  • Shriro has been a family run business for over 100 years, imagine the arguments.
  • Billabong have recently been buying companies like it’s going out of fashion. Over the last few years their purchases included; VinZipper 2001, Element 2002, Kustom 2004, Nixon 2006 and both Dakine and Sector 9 in 2008. In 2009 they rested.


It’s been fascinating to see how the industry has developed when compared to the original forum post just over three years ago. In that time the companies that The Public Advisor considered to be too big have been bought by even larger multi-national and multi-disciplinary companies. Over time the links between the snowboarding companies has also developed so that that map we constructed does not just cover the snowboarding industry, it also covers most of the ski, skateboard, surf and general action sports industry too.
These changes are a pretty natural part of capitalism and they will keep happening and it’s all a lot less sinister than The Public Advisor fears. More money and generally better run companies produce lower costing and better products for us punters. All the while as companies grow larger they become less adaptable and less able to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, which gives new opportunities to the small, independent companies. If you look back over the long-term, since snowboarding first developed a lot of companies have started and some have disappeared but on the whole there’s been a significant growth in numbers as well as the more obvious increase in the amount of money floating around. If you are concerned with the loss of independent companies just remember there are more independent snowboard companies around toady than there has been at any other time in snowboard’s history.

That’s it from the Illicit ice palace this week.

Related Articles…
If you want some more snowboard inspired infographics why not try our last visualization - An interactive snowboard timeline
If you are just into ice palaces, take a look at the man who ruled Turkmenistan in the Top 10 Snowsports Dictators 

For any of you that want a good old-fashioned list of all the brands, here you go, fill your boots…

Macquarie Group Ltd. – Majority Stakeholder [ASX: MQG] Mkt Cap US$15.50B
Jarden – Minority Stakeholder [NYSE:JAH] Mkt Cap US$2.17B
Chartreuse & Mont Blanc - Holding Company

Luxottica Group [NYSE: LUX; MTA: LUX] Mkt Cap US$12.15B

VF Corporation [NYSE: VFC]  Mkt Cap US$8.26B

Billabong International [ASX: BBG] Mkt Cap US$2.60B
Honolua Surf Company

Jarden [NYSE:JAH] Mkt Cap US$2.17B
Outdoor Solutions Group
K2 Snowboarding
Ride Snowboards

Amer Sports [NASDAQ OMX Helsinki: AMEAS] Mkt Cap US$1.34B

Collective Brands Inc. [NYSE:PSS] Mkt Cap US$1.30B
Collective Licensing International

Volcom [NASDAQ: VLCM] Mkt Cap US$389M

Quiksilver Inc. [NYSE: ZQK] Mkt Cap US$275.57M
Mervin Manufacturing

Orange 21 Inc. [NASDAQ:ORNG] Mkt Cap US$8.76M

Channel Islands Surfboards

Shriro Pacific Ltd. [Private]


  1. hot damn! I am impressed and mostly amazed that someone was "inspired" by our crappy forum.

  2. Hey the kid who posted that on was Jeff Holce. My friend andrew didnt sound really excited to get named out on the this AWESOME article.

  3. P.S. thanks for letting me whats up. I told about 14 people so far about this.

    Jeff H.

  4. you don't like what you see here? Support smaller companies that are still hand-building boards in Colorado like Unity Snowboards or Never Summer.

    At least Burton's not a snowboard company based in Southern California, that's the most ridiculous thing of all.

  5. I just found this little map as well, not as pretty but it has info on smaller brands too.

  6. can use that corporation map and chart for an article i am writing in a magazine i am making for school?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

© 1896. Design by Main-Blogger - Tinkering by Zhang - Colouring in by Illicit