Martin Brown Steps Down as CEO of Wine-Searcher, Julian Perry New CEO
It’s all change at the top, at Wine-Searcher, the search engine dedicated to finding and pricing wine as it welcomes a new Chief Executive and its Founder Martin Brown steps back from the limelight.
Martin Brown, who created Wine-Searcher in 1999 and is now a vital tool for the world’s alcoholic drinks trade announced he would be stepping down as CEO. His replacement is Julian Perry, the creator of UK-based tech company Limitless.
Life has changed since the early days of Wine-Searcher, which Brown admits was rudimentary – a world away from the major industry resource it is today. Wine-Searcher is one of the most formidable specialist databases on the internet and as is often referred to as the “Google for wine”.
“What amazes me is how slowly it all took shape. You read about booming IT companies, but it took seven years before I could pay myself a salary. We have been organically growing without VC funding for years.
When we started out, the sort of search we did was simple compared to what we show now about wine, spirits and beer. Tasting notes, encyclopaedic content, market demand and supply data as well as where to find the wine you want to drink. These days we are at the forefront of what's happening in IT – natural language, pattern recognition, and clustering algorithms that we use in conjunction with our expert wine matching team.”
Continuous improvement is an important part of the Wine-Searcher ethos, as Brown explains: “Wine recommendations are a new focus. What is a good wine, at your price, available near you and recommended by a top critic? An enormous amount of technical effort goes into recommendations that no human can possibly do using all of these criteria. We are pushing the boundaries for the wine trade, making use of changes that have come along in IT that make it easier for consumers to buy wine”
Incoming CEO Perry says that the emphasis on using the advances in technology and constant improvement will continue under his watch.
“We are providing tools that help all types of users from the expert to the enthusiast. While continuing to be an independent and transparent international resource for the wine trade,” he said.
Continuous improvement means the recent app redesign, Casey the chatbot. These new developments take a significant amount of time and expertise – that wine retailers and producers can’t afford to invest in. We are here to help the whole industry to sell more wine, spirits and beer. We don’t take a % of the sale; we are here to drive traffic to retailers and producers who sell online.”
Brown is at pains to emphasize Wine-Searcher’s independence in the trade.
“We were an additional layer to the wine trade when we started. We were not a store, not trying to replace the traditional trade. We were an online version of the old wine supplier directory. We solve an important problem for the wine buyer which is where to get a wine and of course, everybody likes to find the wine at a good price.”
As a business that focusses on both IT and wine, development is integral to Wine-Searcher’s DNA.
“For our users, it’s all about functionality,” Brown said. “We’re always growing the number of price lists we have; our accuracy is constantly improving and we are faster at doing this. These three elements define a good search engine – breadth, accuracy and timeliness, and are at the core of every functional decision we make.”
Stepping back from a hands-on, day-to-day role in a company you have started can be a hard thing for a businessman, but Brown is confident he is making the right move.
“I never really wanted to be CEO in the first place. I come from an IT background, the functional end of the business, and have never enjoyed being out front. I’m looking forward to stepping back – I'd like a new set of concerns. I’m not entirely sure what those concerns are going to be, but I'm looking forward some new ones.”
Perry is equally looking forward to the challenge of moving Wine-Searcher on to the next stage.
“It's an honour – and great responsibility – to take over from Martin, having worked with him and admired his focus and ingenuity from the start of Wine-Searcher,” Perry said. “Wine-Searcher relies on the dedication and passion of the multi-talented team of 65 staff primarily based in Auckland, as well as specialist remote staff around the world. With our team, we will grow and continue to redefine and lead the digital landscape for the wine industry.”
Wine-Searcher is the world's wine, beer and spirits search engine. 5 million people use Wine-Searcher to find and price alcoholic beverages in every country. Wine-Searcher uses data from critics to make wine recommendations with its new chatbot Casey.
Using the Wine-Searcher apps users take a photo of a wine label on their mobile and Wine-Searcher’s label recognition tool instantly shows where to find and buy wine at the best price. In addition to making wine discovery fun and easy, Wine-Searcher is the best place for users to buy wine for all their needs.
Founded by Martin Brown in 1999. For more information, visit www.wine-searcher.com.